I didn’t know until recently that my style of parenting could mostly be described as ‘gentle parenting’. In fact it wasn’t until I read this from Gentle Parenting recently that I realised that I basically parent in this way 90% of the time. And the other 10% is just when I’m being a bitch/I’m too tired to parent/I’m too stressed to parent.
I’ve worried on many occasions that my style of parenting could sometimes be seen as allowing the kids to get away with too much, or behave like twats with little or no repercussions, but in fact it’s as far from that as could be. I expect a lot from the kids, Amelia more so what with Wills still being pretty small. Amelia has very clear boundaries, but I guess it’s how I
try to handle her behaviour when she crosses those boundaries that could be defined as ‘gentle parenting’.
R.E.S.P.E.C.T: What Does It Mean To You?
One of the biggest things that I always try to practice with Amelia is to show her the respect that I think she deserves. The respect that I would expect her to show to others, to me, her brother, and her Dad. This can be simple things like always saying please and thank you to her, but as she gets older it also means that I try to respect her individuality more. She is at an age where she has clear likes and dislikes. There’s a fine line between allowing her to do/not do what she likes and respecting her likes and dislikes. Sometimes it can be a hard balance to strike.
I like to think that I know my kids pretty well, so I can usually tell when she ‘doesn’t like’ something because she’s having me on, and when she genuinely doesn’t like something. I mean, let’s be real; if someone offered you a food that you hate every Wednesday, despite you telling them every time that you don’t like it, you’d get pretty pissed off, right?! If someone yelled at you from another room to “get here right now” when you were in the middle of watching a riveting YouTube video of cats chasing wool, you’d have a little huff and puff, right?!
You Just Don’t Get Me!
I’ve written before about finding it hard to comprehend any kind of real attachment to material possessions, especially the seemingly irrational attachment that kids have to the most random things. But this is one of the ways that I try to show as much understanding as possible.
Imagine you have a tatty old rag. That rag belonged to your Great Grandma, and the day she passed away she gave it to you and said “keep this with you, and I’ll always be by your side.” To anyone else, that tatty old rag is a piece of junk, but to you it is the ultimate treasure. Say one day you drop that rag in the street, suddenly realise the mistake and panic, retracing your steps hurriedly to retrieve it. Your friends might be totally baffled as to why you’re freaking out over a tatty old rag, but to you it means way too much to let it go.
I’ve just made this rag up, but I try to think about Amelia’s prized possessions in this way, because I know in her little 3-year-old mind that this is how she thinks of her favourite things. It doesn’t matter that her favourite things change sometimes daily, at that time they are precious, and who am I to question that?!
How Would You Feel?
When Amelia is kicking and whingeing at me 10 minutes after she wakes up, as frustrating as it can be, I know that I’m not a morning person either. Sometimes her reaction when I wake her up for nursery is exactly how I felt like behaving when my alarm went off!
I try to use this principle to guide how I respond to her in general. Kids are like tiny explosive balls of emotion, and at 3 Amelia is only beginning to scratch the surface of how to handle all those feelings. So when she’s bawling her eyes out, or stamping and screaming at me I try to take a second to work out how I would feel in her position. Again, I can usually work out if she’s kicking off because she think it’ll get her her own way or if she’s genuinely emotionally overwhelmed.
Do What Works For You
I don’t know that any particular style of parenting is better or worse than others, or if choosing to parent a certain way makes anyone a better or worse parent. Each to their own, as far as I’m concerned! I’m also acutely aware that there are numerous times that I fail miserably at responding to Amelia the way I’d like to. Daily, in fact! and there are times that keeping a handle on my own emotions requires some serious effort, because let’s face it, kids can be pricks!
What I do know, is that when I’m on top parenting form and I’m following all of my own advice, Amelia responds so positively. Our days are more chilled, tantrums are more easily diffused, and we have more fun.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on gentle parenting. Am I just a hippy pandering to my kids, or do you too try to follow the principles of gentle parenting too? Or have you, like me, been following these principles without even realising you were gentle parenting?