Play & Learn
Gentle Parenting: What We Learned From The Experts
Whether you are a first-time mama or a seasoned one, parenting challenges come aplenty— from exhaustion and sleep deprivation to feeling overwhelmed with the many roles you play. Then you also have to deal with power struggles, aggressive behaviors, temper tantrums, and overall attitude problems. How you handle all these also depends on your parenting style.
In recent years, one approach that has been garnering attention is gentle parenting. If this concept is new to you or you’ve already heard about it and want to know more, read on to learn more. These are some of the things we learned from the discussion “Your Guide to Gentle Parenting'' at the recently-held edamama Family Expo:
1.) Gentle parenting is about creating a safe space for your child.
According to child development coach Teacher Bloss Villafuerte, authoritative parenting style—of which gentle parenting falls under—advocates a balance between warmth and demand. It’s easy for parents to think that discipline is not learned in this approach, but such is not the case. She explained that practicing gentle parenting gives you a lot of opportunities to support the social-emotional growth of your child.
It’s also about the connection between parent and child. Vlogger mama Julie Ann Septimo, who uses this approach on her child, said that parents should try to see things from the perspective of a child while still being firm when needed.
2.) You can have your kids listen to you without screaming at them.
“I think spanking and standing in the corner, the fear-based tools, they work. But how does that help the child do better? When you make use of the gentle parenting approach, whatever the case is, the goal is how can the child do better next time. How can this be a teachable moment for the child,” said Teacher Bloss. She also suggested giving the child choices because when we do this, they feel empowered.
Mama Julie added that gentle parenting tries to develop the internal willingness of the child instead of pressuring them to do something you tell them to do. Host Cerah Hernandez, also a mama influencer, furthered that kids are not robots so they’re not just going to follow just because you tell them to. They should be able to understand what’s happening and think for themselves in the future.
3.) Parents have to model positive behaviors for this approach to be a success.
One of the things Teacher Bloss would always ask parents is “What are the traits you would like your child to develop as they grow older?” Empathy, compassion, and patience are some of the most common responses. “Whenever they say these traits, I always say na yan yung guide natin. Kung ano yung imo-model natin sa bata because children learn through what they see around them, especially what their parents are modeling. Yung ganung traits nakukuha din nila from their environment. When you are conscious as a parent of how you are when your child is around, the things you do at home, it's something that helps them grow holistically as a person.”
4.) Be ready to unlearn things when you practice gentle parenting.
This approach is not just for the child. It will also require a lot of inner work for adults. “There is a lot of unlearning to do kasi marami tayong nakasanayan. It's important to let go of preconceived judgements, biases. Gentle parenting is child-centered. It zeroes in on the child’s readiness and development. You have to remember that as an adult, we are the ones that have more life experiences, more developed as a person compared to these kids. You have to really be the one to take a step back, stay composed, and (think) how can I help and support this child at this time,” advised Teacher Bloss.
5.) Validate your child’s emotions and offer emotional support.
It’s also important to understand that these tiny humans have big emotions that they don’t know how to handle; hence, the tantrums. They need us to help them manage such emotions.
Mama Julie advised that while we are validating and offering emotional support, we also have to set healthy boundaries. Tell them it’s okay to be angry, but it’s not okay to shout at or hit someone. Teacher Bloss added that redirecting and offering alternatives is one way to deal with this. When a child takes it out on their mom, you can give them a pillow so that’s where they can release their frustrations and anger.
6.) Gentle parenting is not an easy approach, but it is worth it.
Mama Julie shared that when you practice gentle parenting, you also need to control your own emotions—and this poses a challenge for those who are short-tempered.
According to Teacher Bloss, gentle parenting is not an easy thing to practice so you will also need a support system. “Remember lang what can I do to help the child. At the end of the day, kids don't just remember what you say but how you make them feel.”
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