One of the hardest parts of motherhood is figuring out what kind of parent you will be. Some pregnant moms read books on how to get through pregnancy in the first year, but they also may read books on parenting to see how they want to raise their child. While there is no one right way to raise a child, there are countless methods that moms can adapt depending on what kind of style she wants to raise her children with. The latest approaches allow the parents to become more aware of their emotions and reactions. Gentle parenting also follows the same path.
What Is Gentle Parenting?
Gentle parenting is about creating a partnership with your child. While mom and child are not exact equals, they work together to make choices, and this is based on internal willingness instead of a child behaving because they feel pressured to by mom.
It relies on a mom’s ability to be compassionate, empathetic, and one who welcomes their child’s emotions. It is the ability to see your child as their unique personality, instead of someone you have to mould to be a good person. The good news is that this type of parenting does not follow the mom’s rules. However, certain tips can become a guideline for you to follow.
1. Start With Yourself
The “peace” in peaceful parenting comes from you specifically, from your commitment to regulate your own emotions. That means that when you feel upset, you Stop, Drop your agenda (temporarily), and Breathe. You notice the sensations in your body, which helps you stay more conscious, so you don’t get hijacked by anger. This takes practice — both in those tough moments with your child and in general, as you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions.
Peaceful parenting doesn’t work without a connection. So, before you change anything else with your child, start building up your bond. Spend at least 15 minutes connecting one-on-one with each child daily, just following his lead and pouring your love into him. You’ll be amazed at the difference in the way he responds to your requests.
Wait until you see more connection and cooperation. Then, initiate a discussion. Emphasize not to adopt a certain behaviour while accepting the reason behind your child’s certain actions.
“You know how I used to yell at you and send you to your room when you broke the rules? Have you noticed that I’ve been yelling a lot less? I’m so sorry that I’ve gotten into a bad habit of yelling so much. I love you so much, and I know you try hard. You don’t deserve to be yelled at, no matter what. No one does. We still have all the same rules. So it is never okay to lie or break promises or hit your brothers. Let’s begin by having a family meeting about what household rules are important to us.”
4. Offer Support
Ensure that you understand a certain concern while addressing the issue at hand. Try to come up with a solution. This gentle parenting model offers a win-win solution for both parties.
“I know your little sister gets on your nerves sometimes, and she always wants to play with your things. That’s really annoying to you. You deserve to be able to keep your treasures safe. But it isn’t okay to yell at your sister or hit her. Why don’t we work together to find a safe place for your treasures where your sister can’t get at them? And if you start getting annoyed at her, what can you do instead of yelling?”
5. Set Limits
You become more flexible as you see it from your child’s point of view more often, and that’s a good thing. But you’ll still need to set plenty of limits. The key is to set the limit BEFORE you get angry, while you still have a sense of humour and can empathize with his perspective.
6. Teach Reparations
If you’ve been punishing, you’ll feel unfinished if your child breaks a rule and you don’t punish him. So train yourself to think in terms of repair, instead. After everyone has calmed down and feels reconnected, have a private discussion with your child about what happened. Be patient, listen, and empathize. That’s what will help him past it. Please resist the urge to teach until your child has opened up to show you all that upset that caused him to act out. Then, point out the cost of his actions, being careful not to shame or blame.
7. Expect Emotions
When children are punished, they learn that those big emotions drive them to misbehave and get them into trouble, so they get in the habit of stuffing those “bad” feelings down. The jealousy, frustration and need are still there in your child’s emotional backpack, popping out at the slightest provocation. The only reason your child keeps them under wraps is that she’s afraid. So once you stop punishing, those emotions are bound to bubble up to get healed.
8. Create Safety
When your child shows you his upsets, stay calm. Don’t take it personally. The more you remain compassionate and accepting, the more he’ll feel safe enough to show you the woundedness behind his anger. If your child is stuck in anger, create more safety by being as compassionate as you can about what’s upsetting him. If that isn’t enough to help him cry and stay angry, it’s a sign that he needs more daily empathy and more daily laughing with you. Both build trust.
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