So you want to Try Gentle Parenting? Here’s How to Begin Today

How to Begin Gentle Parenting

Pop open your Instagram or Facebook app to any parenting account, and you’ll no doubt be inundated with content that tells you that you should be practicing a form of authoritative parenting known as Gentle Parenting or Conscious Parenting. What is harder to find, however, is a step-by-step guide for how to begin Gentle Parenting.

I find that many parents watch a few TikToks videos and feel that this is sufficient information to begin their gentle parenting journey. This, unfortunately, is a recipe for disaster. As Gentle Parenting (aka Conscious Parenting) is a science-backed parenting philosophy, there is a science to incorporating it into your life.

photo of a Black family as they discuss how to begin gentle parenting

What is Gentle Parenting?

Gentle Parenting is a science-backed parenting philosophy that emphasizes empathy, understanding, and respect in raising children. It promotes a nurturing and compassionate relationship between parents and their children, focusing on connection, communication, and positive discipline rather than punishment. Gentle parenting aims to foster emotional intelligence, autonomy, and healthy development in children while prioritizing their well-being and building trust and mutual respect within the parent-child relationship.

Gentle parents must also be in tune with their own emotions, so they can parent from a place of intention, rather than a place of reactivity. This caveat is why I often prefer to use the term Conscious Parenting, because the average parent cannot do any of the above if they haven’t unpacked their own possible trauma. There is an awareness of self parents must have or be actively working to have to be able to effectively move into Gentle Parenting. In fact, I would argue that Gentle Parenting is more about the parent than it is the child.

If you’ve read this far, I know what you’re probably now thinking: It all sounds great, but how do we begin gentle parenting in the first place? What does it even look like in practice?

How to Begin Gentle Parenting

How to Begin Gentle parenting: A step-By-Step Guide

By now, you know I authored the video E-book, No Right Way: a Beginner’s Guide to Conscious Parenting, so you should definitely check it out for a more in-depth look into this parenting philosophy. However, if you want a “quick start” guide, look no further. Here’s how you can begin gentle parenting today:

  1. Educate Yourself: Read books, articles, and research about gentle parenting to gain a deeper understanding of its principles, benefits, and strategies. This will help you develop a solid foundation. Check out my list of recommended reads here, however, my two must-reads are The Whole Brain Child and The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read.
  2. Reflect on Your Own Childhood: Take time to reflect on how you were parented and consider how it aligns with gentle parenting principles. Identify areas where you would like to make changes or improvements.
  3. Apologize. If you’ve been an authoritarian parent all along and you are now transitioning to Gentle Parenting, you owe your children an apology. Apologize for the past and explain that you are trying to make some positive changes in your parenting. Your children will learn, from you, how to hold themselves accountable when they make mistakes.
  4. Cultivate Empathy: Put yourself in your child’s shoes and try to understand their perspective. Recognize that children have their own thoughts, feelings, and needs that deserve validation and respect.
  5. Practice Positive Communication: Foster open and respectful communication with your child. Listen actively, validate their emotions, and express yourself calmly and clearly. Encourage them to express themselves honestly and without fear of judgment.
  6. Build a Strong Connection: Focus on building a strong and nurturing relationship with your child. Spend quality time together, engage in activities they enjoy, and show them love and affection. This connection will foster trust and cooperation.
  7. Set Clear Boundaries: Establish age-appropriate boundaries and expectations for your child’s behavior. Communicate these boundaries calmly and consistently, and explain the reasons behind them. Age-appropriate is key, as the average is parent has no idea what is and isn’t age-appropriate behavior. So much so that we often punish children for normal childhood behavior. This is why I recommend that every Gentle Parent read The Whole Brain Child, so you can set appropriate expectations and lessen your chances of getting upset and therefore punitive.
  8. Use Positive Discipline Strategies: Move away from punitive measures and focus on positive discipline. Instead of punishment, guide and teach your child through natural consequences, problem-solving, and logical consequences that relate to their actions.
  9. Foster Independence: Encourage your child’s autonomy and independence by providing them with age-appropriate responsibilities and opportunities to make choices. Offer support and guidance as they learn new skills.
  10. Take Care of Yourself: Remember that self-care is essential. Take time to recharge and meet your own needs, as this will help you be more present and patient with your child. I recommend therapy for all Gentle Parents, as well as reading The Body Keeps the Score. If you know, you know!
  11. Seek Support: Connect with other parents who practice gentle parenting or join parenting support groups. Sharing experiences and insights can provide valuable support and encouragement on your gentle parenting journey.

Remember!

Remember, gentle parenting is a process that takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself and your child as you navigate this approach, and be open to learning and adapting along the way.

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