Gentle parenting is defined as providing children with a nurturing environment that acknowledges their feelings.

When parents follow the gentle parenting method, they approach misbehavior without punishment, instead uncovering the reasons behind the child's actions and providing them with ways to correct the behavior. Learning more about gentle parenting can help you decide if it will work with your own children.

Misconceptions About Gentle Parenting

There are many misconceptions about gentle parenting. Often, those who don't understand it may believe that gentle parenting involves children having little to no rules and parents having little to no boundaries.

However, the opposite is actually true. In gentle parenting, parents are expected to set firm boundaries with their children while teaching them how to follow rules with affirmations and positive reinforcement instead of through punishment.

mother talking to and focusing on her young son


The Pros of Gentle Parenting

There's plenty of evidence that can be found in support of gentle or positive parenting. The benefits are vast and have been thought to include:

  • Improved independence and adaptability
  • Reduced occurrences of depression and anxiety
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Improved psychosocial function in adolescence
  • Increased optimism
  • Improved feelings of security at home
  • Better cognitive and social development

little girl raising her hand in class


The Cons of Gentle Parenting

Gentle parenting is challenging. It requires parents to maintain a high level of discipline, particularly with themselves. Gentle parents are expected to approach upset children with patience and understanding while modeling compassion, empathy, and respect.

Furthermore, combative behavior in children must be met with understanding and care instead of frustration.

mother waiting for young son to calm down from anger


Gentle Parenting at Birth

Gentle parenting can start at birth. Of course, discipline isn't going to be a factor when parenting a newborn baby, but even in the early weeks and months of a child's life, parents can approach cries and undesirable behavior with a calm, understanding attitude.

Instead of getting angry, it's important for parents to teach what behavior is expected.

calm mother kissing crying baby


Gentle Parenting in the Younger Years

As children get older, their emotions grow stronger. In some children, these younger years can be the most difficult from an emotional standpoint.

They can also be the most challenging for parents when it comes to maintaining patience. Modeling good behavior is especially vital at this stage. This includes gentle contact, empathy, and kindness.

Mother calmly disciplining young son


Gentle Parenting in Older Children

As children grow older and become more independent, it's important to give them the freedom to grow and make their own decisions, provided they're following the boundaries set forth by their parents.

That said, they also need to see parents demonstrating good behavior, so it's vital that parents set aside time to spend with their children on a regular basis throughout these years. It's also important to continue to approach discipline gently, without yelling or using physical punishment.

mother having a calm conversation with unhappy child


Gentle Parenting Teenagers

Teenagers can be difficult to manage in any household and it's important that gentle parents understand the challenges they're apt to face in these formative years. In some cases, teenagers may reject their parents; however, studies suggest those who've been raised in a household that utilizes the gentle parenting approach are generally easier to discipline and manage.

During these years, parents should continue to demonstrate the behaviors they want to see in their children while ensuring they regularly show them signs of love and respect.

Mother speaking firmly to young teen daughter


Common Hurdles Parents Face

Gentle parenting can be challenging even for the most disciplined parents. Dealing with bouts of anger and sadness, as well as outbursts in the younger years, is enough to drive any dedicated caregiver crazy.

However, these are the moments that are most vital. When these challenges arise, it's important to resist urges to yell or punish the child and, instead, work with them to uncover the root of their problems and develop a better method for managing their feelings.

mother with hands on hips looking at upset daughter


Discipline in Gentle Parenting

Discipline in gentle parenting isn't traditional. It doesn't involve yelling at children or spanking but, instead, asks parents to have open and honest discussions with their children.

Furthermore, parents practicing gentle parenting should not withhold love or affection in difficult times. Instead, it's important to show children love even in these moments, while still standing firm in their boundaries and rules.

father calmly waiting for angry son to talk


Adopting a Gentle Parenting Approach at Home

It's never too late to take a gentler approach to parenting. That said, as children grow older, it can be more of a challenge to change old habits. The most important things to remember in gentle parenting are to nurture children and show them love and affection in every instance, even the most maddening or frustrating situations.

It's also vital to demonstrate the behaviors you want to see your child display most, including kindness, empathy, and love.

woman comforting her young son


Popular Now on Facty Health


This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.