An Introduction to Gentle Parenting


It is easy to get caught up in the stress of parenting young children. When we are frustrated, we sometimes respond to our children in ways that we regret, such as yelling. It is important to remember that children are still learning how to respond to the world around them and may sometimes react in a way that causes us stress. It is important that you show children appropriate reactions to their own and other people’s emotions.

One way to approach parenting in a way to support children’s emotional safety is by using gentle parenting methods. Gentle parenting is based on responding to your child with love, empathy, respect, and understanding. Gentle parenting allows children to form a secure attachment, meaning they feel safe in their relationship with you as their parent or caregiver, because you are treating them with respect and listening to them.

Here are some gentle parenting strategies you can use with your child:

  • Show kindness to yourself and others – teach your child to treat themselves and others with kindness by doing that yourself. When you are feeling negative emotions, tell or show them how you are going to make yourself feel better. They may use these methods to make themselves feel better in the future.
  • Give your child options- include your children in day-to-day activities, such as getting ready for school, by giving them choices (i.e., do you want to wear the red shirt or the blue shirt?). This may help them feel more freedom in activities that aren’t optional, making them a bit easier to complete. This method also shows respect for the child’s opinion and wants.
  • Responses to inappropriate behaviors instead of punishing your child or using ‘time-out’ punishment methods, you could use the “time-in” method, where you give your child a safe, calming space to work through their strong emotions. Over time, this may help your child recognize strong negative emotions and learn to work through them.
  • Separate the child from the behavior – when or if you need to correct a child’s behavior, be sure you are highlighting their actions instead of something about them. For example, instead of saying, “you are mean to your sister” you can instead say, “please treat your sister nicely.” This way you are approaching the child with love and explaining why those actions are not appropriate, rather than saying the child is bad.

Using these methods can help you develop a stronger relationship with your child, achieve more family goals. Gentle parenting methods may also help your children develop skills to respond to their emotions in healthier ways. To get more information on gentle parenting visit the Cleveland Clinic.

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