If you’re like me, the concept of “gentle parenting” or “conscious parenting” is a fairly recent idea. I definitely grew up in a more traditional home, where we finished our food, were given time outs, and expected to act a certain way. Now I am not knocking traditional parenting, my parents were great parents and still continue to show me unconditional love. However, I have found in my own personal and professional experiences that a more gentle approach to parenting can be more effective and the benefits are long lasting.
So that’s great, I am on board 100% with a gentle parenting style. Problem is, I am not the only one who influences my child or cares for her on a daily basis. If you didn't know, I am a single mother, who relies heavily on my parents to help raise my child while I work. My daughter also attends a part time early education school a couple days a week. This has worked well for us, and I know I could not pursue my career without the outside support from my family and her school. According to the US childcare statistics over 58% of working parents (single or not) rely on childcare centers to care for their children while at work. That doesn’t account for those of us using private childcare such as a nanny or family and friends. So, how do we get these caregivers on the same page with the gentle style we have adapted?
First, accept that you will not be able to have complete control of the actions of others. Have faith in what you are instilling in your child, and know that they will have the tools to make the right decisions when left to their own devices. This is particularly important in situations like childcare centers and schools. If you decide a childcare center is best for your child, consider your style when selecting the center. Tour the facility, and ask questions to ensure their values align with your own. It is a good idea to talk with other parents whose children also attend that center to get a real feel of what to expect. The same goes for school. You have some control over selecting a program that fits your child best.
When it comes to friends and family, well it can get a little tricky. You will need to find a balance between educating them about gentle conscious parenting and offending them. I have found the best way to explain the expectations for caring for my child is by modeling and showing examples. I find this particularly difficult with grandparents, as this is simply not how they were raised and the concept is completely foreign to them. My best advice is to set clear boundaries and expectations, while giving them grace. Once they start seeing the results from a more gentle approach they will be more likely to use the same approach. You can say something like, “I choose not to use time outs with my child, instead please redirect her. If she is being physically aggressive or endangering herself, please let her know that her feeling is ok but the action is not and then use a calming technique and redirect.” Make sure to set them up for success, give them a few techniques that you have used successfully with your child to help them through hard moments.
Finally, remember to have patience. Gentle parenting can be difficult to implement, especially when you go a lifetime utilizing a different approach. If you need help integrating gentle conscious parenting into your style, feel free to reach out to Stephanie at Stephanie@integrativemediowa.com to set up a home consultation where she can give you in the moment tools to use with your child. Remember gentle conscious parenting is about teaching self-regulation without external pressures, in a peaceful relaxed way. So take a breath, be confident in your own abilities to be the best teacher for your child, and give patience to those helping you along the way.
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