Before my husband and I got married, we decided we would use gentle parenting techniques on our kids. After I had our twins, I have come to appreciate the benefits of gentle parenting. For parents that are not familiar with this parenting style, gentle parenting focuses on building strong, positive relationships with your children while promoting their emotional and social development.
It can be difficult to start gentle parenting your kids, and you may not know where to start. Here are five gentle parenting tips that helped me become a better mom to my twins.
Become an Active Listener
One of the most important aspects of gentle parenting is active listening. I make sure to give my twins my full attention when they are talking to me. I make eye contact with them and occasionally nod my head or ask questions to indicate that I am engaged in the conversation. Through becoming an active listener, my kids feel that their concerns are being addressed and I’m meeting their needs to the best of my ability. This builds trust and respect between us.
» » » » » » » RELATED READ: Four Hacks for Parenting a Highly Sensitive Child « « « « « « « «
Use Positive Reinforcement
Instead of focusing on negative reinforcement such as taking away toys when my twins are not being well-behaved, I focus on positive reinforcement and encourage good behavior. For example, my kids will sometimes throw fits when it’s time to get ready for school in the morning. Instead of yelling at them to get ready, I give them controlled options like, “Do you want to get dressed for school first or have breakfast first?” Once they choose either option, I set timers for each task. I might set a 15 minute timer to eat breakfast and a 10 minute timer to get dressed for school. This not only reinforces their good behavior, but also helps boost their self-esteem and confidence.
Set Clear Boundaries
Gentle parenting is not about letting your children do whatever they want to do; instead, it is about setting clear boundaries and expectations. I make sure my twins have a clear understanding of what is and isn’t acceptable behavior. I then communicate these expectations in a calm tone of voice and use age-appropriate language.
When my kids test these boundaries, I respond with patience and empathy. It is important to remember that they are still learning and growing. I use positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior and avoid punishments. Additionally, I try to model the behavior I expect from my kids. Setting clear boundaries helps establish a sense of safety, security, and predictability for my children.
When my kids are upset or frustrated, I do my absolute best to be empathetic and understanding. I validate their emotions and offer comfort instead of dismissing their feelings. Similar to positive reinforcement, I give them controlled choices. If my twins were frustrated about something, I may give them the option to cuddle with me or have alone time in their room. This helps them feel heard and understood, while teaching them to manage their own emotions.
Lastly, I’ve learned that taking care of myself is just as important as taking care of my kids. Whenever I feel myself getting really frustrated, I give myself some alone time. I will set up activity stations with various safe activities that do not need adult supervision, such as coloring, drawing, playdough, and puzzles. I will set aside another time, usually about 30 minutes, for an activity for myself. I’ll do a short YouTube at-home workout, yoga, read, or journal during this time. Practicing self-care helps me stay calm and centered, even when life gets stressful or chaotic.
Essentially, gentle parenting is a powerful parenting technique that builds strong, positive relationships with your children.
Through using this parenting style, I have become a better mom for my children. I will continue to use this approach to support my children’s emotional and social development. If you are interested in gentle parenting, give these these five tips a try!
ABOUT OUR GUEST WRITER: Sophie is a proudly married wife and mama to twins. She loves spending time with her husband and kids. Every weekend they go out and enjoy a fun activity as a family. When she’s not spending time with her family, she is going on runs in nature or painting in her garage. Currently, she works with a local personal injury firm called The Fine Law Firm. She’s been working with this firm for years, and they feel like family. Sophie loves her family, and she’s super excited to share these gentle parenting techniques.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.