Gentle parenting means no punishments and no rewards: just a partnership with your kids where they want to do the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing. Shutterstock
Came across this piece that defines Positive Parenting. Parents who practise positive discipline or gentle parenting use neither rewards nor punishments to encourage their children to behave.
And by “no punishments” I mean they don’t use time-outs, smacking, shaming or yelling. Forget the naughty step, forget the sticker chart, let’s take a journey into the world of gentle or positive discipline, which aims to teach children empathy, self-control and calmness.
Discipline has come to mean many things in our culture. When we are discussing child rearing, we understand it to mean reprimanding a child for “bad behaviour”. The word discipline comes from the word disciple and means to teach.
The discipline advocated by gentle parenting families is internalised. They argue that to offer rewards and punishments overrides a child’s natural inclination to try. It teaches them to behave in certain ways for a reward, or to avoid punishment.
Advocates of gentle parenting say that rewards and punishments do not encourage children to internalise good behaviour for its own sake.
There are many websites and groups that can help you to practise this parenting approach. Here are a few steps that parents take to encourage a partnership with their children:
There are many sites that claim benefits to this approach. For example, Attachment Parenting International argues that the child is more sensitive to others’ needs because they have learnt to expect that their needs will be met, they will be treated with respect and they are equal partners in the family.
Others argue that it may take more effort, but is more effective, because punishment and rewards are only short-term solutions. As Alfie Kohnargues, using rewards and punishments is about doing things to, not withchildren. Taking a gentle parenting or positive discipline approach invites children to partner with their parents to learn how to live in the community as productive members.
The problems people may see with this style of parenting generally stem from a problem of definition. Gentle parenting is not permissive parenting. Permissive parenting means never saying no, not provoking tantrums or crying and always wanting to please the child. This style of parenting is the antithesis of gentle parenting.
Sometimes parents who practise gentle parenting are described as sanctimommies. The term is meant to imply they are sanctimonious. However, the issue is generally with that individual parent, not their parenting style.
Gentle parenting also requires parental self-control, because you have to take a step back, think and ask, “What is my child’s behaviour communicating in this moment?” and, “What can I do differently to prevent this behaviour next time?”