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Saturday, February 13, 2021

Step Away from the Traditional and Try Gentle Parenting in 2021

I used to call myself a crunchy mom. Or a "natural mom". And then I learned about the term called attachment parenting. Over time my parenting style evolved, but I'd say that I lean towards what is now called gentle parenting. This post by a reader gives some insight about this method of parenting; hopefully you'll learn something wonderful and new.


“Children should be seen and not heard” is a 15th-century trope that has lived on through the ages—traditional views of parenting sort of fit into the same mould. From “taking back your life” to pureed foods, some ways of thinking are better left in the past.

Parenting in 2021 couldn’t look more different. Not only will you hear phrases like “baby-led weaning,” “attachment parenting” and see Dad’s taking up the “stay at home” role, but our approach has also changed. We are raising confident, happy children ready to take on the world.

Here’s how to step away from the traditional and how to embrace 21st Century gentle parenting:

What is Gentle Parenting?

Quite simply, gentle parenting is a scientifically proven, evidence-based approach to raising children. In a nutshell, children become more confident and happier as a result. At its core, gentle parenting is built on four concepts laid out by Sarah Ockwell-Smith:

Empathy

This is where you consider your child’s feelings before you act. So rather than subscribing to the idea that your child is naughty or manipulative, you take a step back and think about the root cause.

Are they acting out because of anxiety, fear or distress? Have they misunderstood a situation themselves? Is that why they are frustrated?

Often parents go straight for the surface problem, or what seems most obvious. Gentle parenting, on the other hand, aims to deal with the cause.

In essence, if your little one can see your empathy, they, in turn, will learn to be kind too.

Respect

Respect is a two-way street. Demanding respect from your child when in turn you don’t respect them doesn’t really bear good fruit. This comes down to who your child is as an individual, their feelings and unique attributes. Expecting respect when you have done little to gain it, isn’t going to work out in your favour.

When your child does respect you, they will naturally want to help you and keep you happy. Just as you would do for others in your life that you look up to and respect.

Understanding

A lot of the time, we put far too many expectations onto our children. What we need to understand first and foremost is that babies, toddlers, preschoolers, tweens and teens are not mini-adults. Our children are not fully grown or neurologically developed until the third decade of their life.

Children can not think like adults, and we cannot expect them to.

As our little ones grow, they establish concepts from abstract thinking to understanding emotions and how to behave. Their neurological function doesn’t allow them to see the world in the same way you do as adults. They aren’t there yet in their development! So we can’t expect them to be.

Forcing your child to share with someone they don’t know is pretty strange. Would you give your brand new iPhone to a stranger on a bus? It’s pretty unlikely! So why are you demanding that your child hands over their new toy to Jimmy?

Our expectations are seen through an adult lens. But when you consider your child’s development, everything from sleep down to sitting still and quiet is all pulled into question. Parenting becomes more manageable when we surrender our high expectations and think about how our children feel.

We also need to think about how we look to our children. Are we demonstrating violence through smacking, yelling or biting, or taking a positive, empathetic approach?

Boundaries

Discipline is at the heart of gentle parenting. But instead of going for the traditional heavy-handed approach, it focuses on age-appropriate techniques that are positive, intelligent, empathetic and respectful.

We are our children’s most significant role models. It is our job to teach them how to see the world and not fear it. As parents, we all want happy, healthy and confident children after all.

Gentle Parenting and Sleep

The age-old concept of sleep training is still a hot topic for debate amongst parents, scientists and health practitioners. From crying it out to interval training, we all have our thoughts about sleep.

The gentle parenting ethos aims to build confidence in your child. So helping your little one feel comfortable in their own room can be supported by tapping into what makes your child tick. Never forget - feeling safe and secure is at the heart of most children’s comfort.

From favourite fluffy toys to soothing back rubs, there is a lot that can help ease your little one into sleep. For most of us, child and adult, touch and pressure allow us to sleep. We feel safer and secure when we hug the people we love - dopamine is released, and sleep comes more easily. Sometimes that isn’t enough on its own. A weighted blanket stimulates that same deep pressure feeling, and your quality and length of sleep are increased as a result.

Raising confident children

At its core, the main goal of gentle parenting is to raise a confident child. If you can take the time to understand your child, talk to them, share with them and experience life with them, your child really will be unstoppable.

Stepping away from traditional ways of thought and embracing the gentle parenting ethos will help you think differently about the world. It will impact your parenting, your child’s behaviour and help your child become a more empathetic person.

So what are you waiting for? 2021 is a fresh start. It’s a time to leave the things of the past behind and look to the future. What style of parenting are you going to try?

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