How to Discipline with Gentle Parenting: In 4 Easy Steps
What is Gentle Parenting?
Gentle Parenting is a type of parenting style that has become quite popular on social media recently and while the benefits are extensive, the question of “how do you discipline gently?” is regularly asked.
Positive Parenting was first introduced by Dr Jane Nelson in the 1980’s and her research has curated an evidence-based style of parenting that supports the growth of happy, confident children using elements of empathy, respect, understanding and boundaries.
So, How do you Discipline with Gentle Parenting?
Unlike the authoritarian style of parenting that relies on punishment and fear tactics to attain control, Gentle Parenting hopes to teach children emotional regulation when faced with problems.
Gentle parenting takes personal self-reflection and it’s not always easy to recognise our own faults. Rewiring your brain to be open to mistakes and allowing room for big emotions can be tiring but we have found 4 ways to guide how you discipline your children.
Here’s our 4 step guide:
1. Risk Assess Before You React
Do they need to be disciplined right now or is it a learning experience? We have all had the scenario where your child wants to do something unsafe, and our immediate reaction is to shout “no!” In that second, they stop from fear but there is no lesson to stop them doing it again.
Start by quickly risk assessing the situation yourself, is it something that warrants a safety shout? Sometimes when there is immediate danger, we might need to shout a warning which can be followed with an explanation of what was unsafe.
If you have time to say, “what’s your plan?” your child might say “to double backflip off the slide” and we can follow that with “the slide is too high up and you will injure yourself so I can’t let you do that, we can do jumping down here” which may be met with disgruntled noises but is a lesson learnt.
Every now and then the risk is low, such as slipping on a muddy path, the worst-case scenario is that their trousers get dirty so we don’t need to intervene and the lesson teaches itself.
2. Acknowledge the Feeling then Set the Boundary
Understanding why our children are upset is something that can be difficult when they are mid-tantrum but giving them a safe space for their big emotions can help them to regulate as they grow.
When you’re in a safe environment to do so, saying something like “I can see you’re angry right now, but I can’t let you hurt me” respects the emotion but sets a boundary.
Letting your children tell you why they are upset in their own time gives them the validation they need to work through the feeling instead of shutting it down.
This can be followed with new options to change the action (such as hitting a pillow or a drum instead of you) which encourages problem solving and can be used again next time they feel angry.
3. Swap Commands for Collaboration
We can get into the habit of reeling out commands for efficiency, this is usually met with a lot of pushback and unnecessary arguments. Instead of ordering your child to complete a task, think about how they can work collaboratively with direct expectations.
Swap saying “tidy up your room” for “let’s tidy up together, I will put the blocks in this box, and you can collect the cars in this one.” This feels less overwhelming for a child as they are aware of what is expected of them and they can see a shared end goal.
4. Model Reflective Behaviour
Being a parent is stressful and sometimes we will resort to losing our cool. When this happens, we need to own up and apologise to show our children that we have big feelings too.
Using emotional language to explain your reaction followed by a resolution might look like “I felt angry that you weren’t listening to me so I shouted, I’m really sorry for taking out my emotions on you, can we have a hug?” This shows your child that everyone makes mistakes, but we need to own up to them and think of a resolution.
If you need further help with family coaching, consider visiting Inspire You Family Coaching
For more information on Positive Parenting and Managing your Child’s Emotions