I am asked this question a lot, “What exactly do you mean by gentle parenting? Oh! Is this the new trend of not hitting and scolding children and letting them do whatever they want?” My answer is very straight forward because my perception of gentle parenting is very simple. I always tell parents to treat children like how they would want to be treated by their spouse.This is the only thumb rule I follow with my toddler.
Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes. It is worth every single moment I spend my energy stretching myself, for this tiny human being who is learning his way in this adult world. It is much simpler and time saving for me to use my power as the bigger person in the relationship and get my way with him, but is that my goal? No. My goal in parenting is to raise happy, emotionally regulated, kind human beings who will live fuller lives. How will I reach this goal by being rude, harsh and cruel to them?
This statement is usually followed by the question that, “We were spanked and we turned out to be ok. Didn’t we?” If we were really OK, we wouldn’t be justifying abusing and bullying our children. Let us not propagate violence at home and expect our children to be kind and gentle with their peers. Hitting, spanking or any form of punishment, is really not a healthy way to parent and we could forever alter the brain wiring of children and let’s not speak about their self esteem issues as adults. The moment we justify hurting(verbally and physically) another living being, humanity has failed and it is sorry to see people supporting abuse and violence to children.
So then, how do we get children to listen to us and how do we reduce yelling and spanking at home? By CONNECTING MORE with our children. That’s the only way we can influence anyone for that matter. We do something for another person only because we like them and because we want to.Punishing, shaming, bribing and threatening may help us get the job done easily but what are we really teaching them? Are we teaching them that it is ok to use force when things don’t go their way? They will turn out to be very manipulative adults who act good in our presence and do as they wish when alone. LOVE and RESPECT are the cornerstones in any relationship and especially so in parenting.
I know that a single blog cannot change things over night, but I am at least hoping for some perception change. Only when we realize we are wrong, will we even start looking for solutions. The solution is to be the adult you wish your child to grow up to be. They are observing and learning day in and day out, from our body language, our communication with our spouses and in laws, the way we handle our anger and frustration, and above all from our attitude towards life.
Parenting is really not about raising children but raising oneself. All this is easily said in theory, but day after day I have to constantly look for ways to keep myself happy and fill my cup because only a peaceful parent can give that to the children. Day after day I can see myself getting better with listening to my toddler and unlearning. I embrace the imperfect parent that I am and have begun to enjoy parenting for the soul satisfying work that it is. The more I connect with my toddler, the more calm and simpler my life has become. I wish the same for all the parents reading this and I truly believe, together we can change the world with a more respectful approach to parenting.
Tips to handle crying, tantrums and meltdowns :
1. Listen and then listen some more. I believe the only thing we can do that helps is to listen and connect with a child that is crying.
2. Speak less and especially not logic. Children do not listen when they are crying, so your genuine concern and trying to help really backfires.
3. Do not divert the child. Let them flush out their emotions with your loving presence. However uncomfortable the crying and whining makes you feel, it is imperative that we do not lose cool.
4. An understanding of the child’s brain development and why they behave the way they do, goes a long way in how we see tantrums and we react to them.
5. Tantrums usually happen if we set limits and fix boundaries. I do not say give in to them after they cry. I am suggesting that we are firm in our limits and continue listening to the child, and help them regulate their emotions.
Please reach out, and build a community of like minded parents around you to keep you motivated in this most rewarding journey of parenting. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for more queries and discussions. I am a certified family life coach, child advocate and a gentle parenting consultant who helps parents see the world through a toddler’s eyes.