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Embracing Kindness and Understanding With Gentle Parenting

All the essential information about gentle parenting, including pros and cons, how to incorporate it into your family, and more.

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There are many types of parenting strategies and styles, but one that has been trending lately in blogs and online discussion boards is gentle parenting. This style focuses on a few key elements, like empathy and respect. Let’s dive into those foundational elements and review the pros and cons of gentle parenting. We’ll also provide some tips and resources for incorporating it into your daily life.

Spending Quality Time Together as a Family

Quality time is important for all parent/child relationships. Start making it a habit by planning time together when your children are young. One fun way to change it up and introduce new fun activities to your family night is by picking up a copy of Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition. Each page has unique adventures that will be a complete surprise until you scratch off the activity. Mix in Adventures From Scratch with your gentle parenting!

What is Gentle Parenting?

Gentle parenting is different from some traditional parenting styles. You may recognize them as feeling more authoritarian and punitive. Gently parented children learn to recognize and control their emotions because their mom and dad consistently affirm their feelings as real and important. Guardians set clear boundaries and expectations in a loving and supportive way. 

The gentle parenting method is about forming a partnership between caregiver and child. This method encourages children to make decisions based on internal willingness instead of external pressures. Parents focus on age-appropriate developments and use positive reinforcement and conversations to help them overcome challenges. 

Elements of Gentle Parenting

Let’s examine a few elements commonly found in the gentle parenting style. This brief look can help newcomers understand the principles better and begin their own journey with this method.


The core of this style is kindness. Positive parenting focuses on rewarding good behavior and encouraging kindness. Moms and dads are models for their children, showing them kindness towards others and towards themselves. Putting a lot of focus on acts of kindness helps to cultivate them in your children and make them a huge part of their personality.


Children aren’t preprogrammed with all the information and abilities to deal with the challenges they face. Parents need to constantly be aware of how children are experiencing things and recognize that they don’t have all the tools yet to handle their emotions and feelings. Emotional maturity is developing, so kids might react differently to small situations. 


Mutual respect is important between guardians and children. Parents need to respect their children’s feelings and experiences. Setting boundaries can be one way to practice respect in your family. Let your children explore what they’re comfortable with. This allows them to gather some experience communicating their boundaries and comfort level with different activities.


A big component of gentle parenting is being mindful of your child’s feelings in the moment. Don’t be dismissive or stay in auto-pilot mode. Take time out of your normal routine to check in with your children and understand their feelings. Empathy is hard to learn, but if children see caregivers engaging with them about their feelings, that can help everyone learn more about handling emotions. 


Self-regulation of emotions is not something that humans are born with. It takes time to learn and understand. Time-outs are common in traditional parenting styles, but gentle parenting suggests a different tactic. Sit with your child when they’re having hard-to-control emotions, and practice setting limits and self-regulation with them. You can probably tell, but this style takes a lot of patience and careful monitoring of your own reactions as the caregiver. 

Origins of Gentle Parenting

Authoritative parenting and tiger parenting are more traditional styles that sometimes involve punishing children for just doing things that they naturally do. British psychologist and parenting expert Sarah Ockwell-Smith is credited with introducing the gentle parenting approach. She has four children of her own and has now authored over a dozen books on the topic. Her belief is that parents should act more like coaches in child development and support their self-awareness. 

Parenting experts point out many benefits of this approach, but it’s not for everyone. You must be prepared to unwind some of your beliefs and reactions to behaviors to succeed. However, don’t be discouraged. Many caregivers have practiced this style (or at least parts of it) in their child-raising, and it’s continuing to gain popularity in many communities.

Pros and Cons of Gentle Parenting

Like any decision around raising children, there are benefits and setbacks to moving forward with a specific way of doing something. Gentle parenting benefits your child and your family, but there are some challenges that are important to understand. Humans all have different ways of operating and different resources at their disposal. Let’s take a look at both sides to give you a better understanding.

Benefits of Gentle Parenting

Improves Parent-Child Relationship

Gentle parenting techniques encourage parents and children to collaborate and have more open conversations. Instead of being an authoritative figure, you’re partnering with your child to show them the way and help them work through their challenges. One study proves that the bond is improved with gentle parenting because there is such a focus on giving children love, time, and support, which are valuable resources. 

Focuses on Positive Behaviors and Values

Gentle parenting teaches children self-control and good values. Parents serve as models and coaches as they celebrate positive behaviors in the moment. As a result, children are able to assert themselves and learn to control their emotions in a safe space without punishment. This builds their self-esteem by emphasizing good behaviors and what they’re doing correctly. 

Reduces Anxiety

Mental health is a big focus with gentle parenting. There have been many studies about emotional well-being and how childhood experiences shape us later in life. Gentle parenting uses methods that will help children define their feelings and feel more comfortable expressing themselves in a healthy manner. It promotes regulated responses to heightened situations and provides a better context in which children can explain themselves and use tools to manage their emotions. 

Encourages Conflict Resolution and Social Skills

Learning how to cope within social contexts greatly benefits children who are gently parented. Caregivers demonstrate how to work through conflict in a calm and productive manner. This is so important because kids copy what they see. Gentle parenting focuses on empathy, kindness, and understanding. And children are more likely to replicate these values in their social environments as they grow up. As a result, they can form more positive relationships and use the necessary social skills to work through any conflicts. 

Promotes Adaptability and Flexibility

Gentle parenting helps children see what it’s like to manage frustrations and become more tolerant in stressful situations. This is extremely beneficial as children grow up and face more obstacles. They learn to be resilient and open to change because they’ve seen it modeled during their important developmental stages. They will find it easier to remain calm and confident in their ability to deal with challenges.

Cons of Gentle Parenting

Misconceptions From Others

This style is still relatively new to the mainstream, so many people will not understand it. You might find it challenging when working with grandparents, family members, and babysitters. Consistency is important, so you want other adults in your child’s life to have an understanding of your goals and methods. People who don’t understand gentle parenting may have misconceptions. You’ll need to work through those to get them on board. 

A common misunderstanding is between gentle parenting and permissive parenting. Gentle parenting isn’t about avoiding discipline—it’s about understanding a child’s feelings in the moment. 

Struggling With a Lack of Structure

This style requires a lot of patience and persistence. Many children and adults struggle with a lack of discipline and structure, so this method can be extremely challenging. If the adults aren’t able to function within this environment, it might not be the right option for your family.

Difficulties With the Big Time Investment

We’ve mentioned a lot that this parenting method requires patience, but that also means time and flexibility. Tight schedules and routines can be tricky when managing a child’s emotional well-being. It takes a lot of time to get to know your children on a level where you can help them process their behavior and how they’re feeling. Parents must be heavily involved with the day-to-day activities. They need to be available for questions so they can help with processing experiences as needed. 

Personal Development Hurdles

Many adults today didn’t grow up familiar with the gentle parenting method. Much of what was modeled for us is different from these values and techniques. As such, it will take some time to change your thinking. Learning more about the method can help you understand the benefits, but there will be some challenges in changing your behaviors and how your brain is wired to think about these things.

Tips to Incorporate Gentle Parenting

Gentle parenting can be done in many different ways. You have to decide what works best for your family. But if you’re just starting to learn about it and are looking for ways to incorporate this style into your family, start with these helpful, gentle parenting tips. 

Communicate with your child calmly and respectfully.

Sometimes, your own emotions will be hard to hide, so make sure you’re approaching your children with a calm demeanor. Be respectful of their space and how they might perceive a situation, and work with them to understand their feelings. 

Be consistent.

Consistency is so important. You can’t use the methods one day and then overreact to a tantrum the next. You’ll end up confusing children even more. Make a commitment to stick with it, and be consistent with how you communicate and deal with issues. 

Communicate expectations with others.

If your child has other regular caregivers, outline your expectations with them. Make sure they’re on board with your style of parenting and the communication strategies you employ. You’ll also need them to share information with you about your child’s experiences. 

Offer choices, and allow your child to make decisions.

A big part of gentle parenting is that you’re using each learning opportunity to show them how to make decisions. Change the format. Invite kids to participate in the decision-making process so they can learn in a safe space with support. For example, instead of telling your child to put their jacket on, you can suggest adding a layer because it’s cold outside. Give them some choices, and allow them the chance to make a decision. 

Praise your child’s positive behavior.

Positive reinforcement is a strong tool in this method. Celebrate the good moments. Focusing on positive reactions will encourage more future positivity and good behavior. Guide them to the correct choice by using alternatives to “no.” 

Be a model.

Gentle parenting requires you to be a role model for your children. It’s important to give them real-life examples and practice what you preach. Kids copy what they see their parents and siblings doing. Show them how to have positive interactions with others. Be patient and kind, and work through your emotions in a productive way.

Spend time playing and connecting with your child.

Connection is very important in building a bond between child and parent. Quality time allows you to learn how your children respond to different situations. It also gives them more time to watch you. 

Focus on the moment and action, not the person.

Avoid words that describe a person or personality. When talking to your children about a specific situation, only describe the action and not them as a person. One of the most common examples is the word “naughty” or “bad” when referring to a child. Gentle parenting experts would advise that you avoid any word that describes the child negatively. Stick to describing the situation only; it keeps things focused on the moment. 

Prepare for negative behaviors.

Any parenting style is going to have challenges. Be prepared for those moments when you embark on this journey. Have a plan for yourself to deal with the tough moments. It’s not all going to go perfectly. Things are going to be difficult, even if you do everything exactly like the books say. 

Resources to Learn More About Gentle Parenting

Parenting advice comes in many different forms. If you’re interested in gentle parenting, many incredible resources can help you answer questions about everyday life situations and bigger questions regarding your child’s behavior. Whether you prefer reading books, following people on social media, working with a parenting coach, or finding a community, there are options available for you. 

Take your time exploring these resources. The Instagram accounts can be great daily reminders. They provide tips that are easy to digest in small doses. Communities offer a place to ask questions and get advice on real-life situations that might pop up. Finding a local group might give you recommendations for babysitters or caregivers who can help provide an extra hand with childcare. Books are great when you’re just getting started because they can provide a deeper understanding of the basis of the gentle parenting method. Take advantage of all the hard work and research others have done—it’ll help you get started!

Closing Thoughts on Gentle Parenting

If you choose this gentle parenting philosophy, it can help you raise confident, kind, and resilient children. You’ll be in touch with your child’s needs and spend quality time with them. There are many benefits to this method and the wellness of the entire family, but it comes with challenges. Use the resources, and connect with others in the community. Gentle parenting can be a challenging but rewarding journey. 

Still want to broaden your horizons? Then check out more parenting articles on our Connect blog!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of gentle parenting?

Gentle parenting helps kids learn kindness and empathy through coaching and guidance from their parents, who model that behavior. It gives kids strong social skills and conflict-resolution skills.

Why is gentle parenting becoming more popular?

The more our society focuses on mental health and wellness, the more we learn about child development. Gentle parenting gives families some guidance on how to help develop self-regulation of emotions. 

Is the practice of gentle parenting hard?

Gentle parenting requires a big time commitment and patience. Parents have to be role models for their children and ensure they’re providing good examples of kindness and empathy.

What are fun ways to continue bonding with older children?

Quality time is one of the most important ways for parents to bond with children. Adventures From Scratch has dozens of fun activities for families to explore together as they practice gentle parenting.

How can I learn more about the gentle parenting approach?

There are incredible resources about gentle parenting online, including books, podcasts, and communities. They offer helpful tips for families to learn more about this philosophy.

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