Parenting is definitely not for the faint of heart. It is a hard job and the more advice and expert help that parents can add to their arsenal the better. However, when parents hear about “gentle parenting techniques” for their kids, some might have images conjured in their heads of letting them go wild or not necessarily parenting them at all. Well, that is not the case.
“Parents that love and support their child in learning how to make smarter choices build stronger and healthier bonds with them,” said Maureen Healy, author of “The Emotionally Healthy Child” and child development expert at Growinghappykids.com, in an interview with Romper.com. “The goal of a parent is to guide their child forward — ultimately becoming a healthy, happier and contributing member of society who can joyfully share their gifts with the world. Gentle parenting is more successful at this than authoritative parenting in my professional opinion.”
Here are six parenting techniques, according to Romper.com, to try that prove you can be both strong and soft as a parent, and it is okay.
1. Understand Their Emotions
When a child is having a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store, it is easy to dismiss and/or become angry about this behavior. However, to help say goodbye to those moments, a gentle parenting technique that can be used is to try to understand your child’s emotions. Find out why they are behaving in such a manner and delve deeper into their meltdown. Something must have provoked them to get to that point, it is up to you to find out what and discuss ways to prevent it from happening again. Remember, communication at all levels of development is key!
2. Provide Them Comfort During Bedtime
Helping them get to sleep and rest easier is unquestionably a gentle parenting technique. Help your child to feel comforted in bed and at night makes all the difference in the getting a full night’s peaceful and restful sleep.
3. Be Empathetic
Empathy at any age goes far. Try and put yourself in your child’s shoes and remember that you were once their age too. Know that your child is growing and being able to say, “when I was in a same situation…” will hold more clout than not.
According to a report in Psychology Today, it is possible to “boost empathetic understanding” when you share emotional experiences.
4. Be An Effective Listener
Another gentle parenting technique that can make a world of difference in your child’s life is if you are an effective listener. Once again, remember, communication is key and that also extends to listening. Children need a safe space where they can vent and know that they are being heard.
Dr. Sarah Hornack, pediatric psychologist at Children’s National, said to Romper.com that, “There are some simple strategies for being effective listeners when children bring up negative events or feelings, such as using open questions to explore and understand the child’s perspective,” she tells Romper. “Reflecting the child’s effect (e.g., ‘I understand you are feeling ___ because___.’) and labeling emotions can help children feel heard, but also give them the opportunity to practice appropriate emotional expression. If these difficult emotions and situations are raised to parents, they can suggest positive coping behaviors for their children to try.”
5. If you expect respect, show respect
“Every person — including children — need love, respect and understanding as they traverse this thing we call life,” Healy tells Romper.com. “Boys and girls may be new to the world but that likely means they need more understanding and coaching from us — not less. Remember we want to coach and not control our children. This is where the gentle parenting comes in.”
When you engage in the practice of respecting each other at home, your children will mimic the behavior and respect others outside where ever they go. They become respectful children, they will grow into respectful adults.
6. Not everything always has to be a “no”
Sometimes, children hear the word “no” more than not. In practicing gentle parenting, be selective when you say “no.” This is a great teachable moment to employ empathy and understanding. Although the answer may be a “no,” let them know that it just may be a “not right now.”