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It can be easy to feel totally overwhelmed by the amount of conflicting advice you can get as a new parent. There are so many books and website forums recommending different approaches and you find people give you completely different opinions on the ‘right’ way to raise your child.

Every parent-child relationship is different and it is important to remember that what works for one person isn’t necessarily right for you.

You may come across lots of different parenting styles – psychologists describe four of the most commonly recognized ones as:

  • Authoritative – sets rules and limits, positive consequences rather than punishments
  • Permissive – also known as indulgent parenting, minimal discipline, lenient, few consequences for misbehavior
  • Authoritarian – also known as strict parenting, characterized by demanding but not responsive parents, reliant on punishment and little open dialogue
  • Neglectful/Uninvolved – few rules or guidance, lack of nurturing or guidance

You can read in more detail about these different styles in the Vanderbilt and very well links below.

In reality, most parents will not fit into one ‘box’ of parenting style and most people will be somewhere in between the extremes outlined above.

We’ve heard a lot in recent years about gentle parenting and decided to take a look into what it’s all about. Sometimes it is confused with permissive parenting but it is very different in approach.

Essentially gentle parenting is about having an open communication with your children and enabling them to have the mental space to make their own decisions and experience the consequences.

Making their own decisions means allowing your children choices.

Quite simply it’s about respecting your child as a person with their own thoughts, ideas, feelings and fears. It’s about remembering that they are independent to you and not an extension of you.

The Gentle Parenting website’s byline is ‘from growing roots to giving wings’ – this really sums up the essence of gentle parenting – to allow children to develop responsibility and self-control in a safe environment during childhood and so prepare them for being adults.

Gentle parenting tips

  • Respect! Listen to your child’s opinions. Give them your full and total attention. Respecting children enables them to understand how to respect others.
  • Empathize! Remember that both adults and children have bad days. Humans are not wired to be happy 100% all of the time. Try to understand that is the case for your child too and listen to them more. As with respect, empathy engenders empathy.
  • Choices! It might seem easier just to make a decision for your child, particularly if you’re trying to rush out of the door. But take a step back and allow them to make their own choices. That is how they will learn about consequences. They can’t learn and grow if everything is decided for them. Yes, it may take longer but it’s important.
  • Use positive language! Instead of automatically saying ‘Don’t’ and ‘Stop’ try to offer alternatives such as ‘Remember to use your gentle hands’ instead of ‘Stop hitting’. Please look at the sacraparental link below for lots more ideas on this.
  • Reset your expectations! It can be easy to forget how old your child is when you are dealing with challenging behavior. Remember that they are MUCH younger than you, and you need to guide them to learn how to behave in this world. Don’t expect too much at too young an age.
  • Take time out for you! We all know that parenting is relentless and can be hard. Don’t be afraid to prioritize time for yourself, and practice self-care. Looking after yourself is really important and it will mean you have more patience and resilience to be a positive parent.

There is no such thing as a perfect parent – whatever anyone says, no parent gets it right all the time! Don’t be too hard on yourself – we think a lot of parenting is about going with your instincts and doing what feels right.

Making sure you really take time to listen to your child and respect them as an independent person is a good place to start.

If you’re interested in learning more then you could read the book ‘Gentle Parenting’ by Sarah Ockwell-Smith, a respected parenting author, writer, coach and co-founder of


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