10 Ways To Shift From Mainstream Parenting To Gentle Parenting

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There are many parenting styles that exist today, and gentle parenting falls within the one most researches believe to be best: Authoritative. It’s a more gentle way to parent your children that teaches them healthy boundaries and self-regulation. This style is different from mainstream parenting because it focuses on the child’s needs and not as much the parent’s wants.

The idea of Gentle Parenting has been around since the 1950’s but became popular after child care expert and author Sarah-Ockwell Smith published her book “The Gentle Parenting Book” in 2016.

In this blog post, we will explore 10 ways you can shift from mainstream parenting to gentle parenting in order to raise well-adjusted kids!

10 Ways To Shift From Mainstream Parenting To Gentle Parenting

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10 Ways To Shift From Mainstream Parenting To Gentle Parenting:

  1. Focus on Unmet Needs vs Bad Behavior
  2. Embrace Your Child’s Dependence on You Instead Of Focusing On Their Independence
  3. Learn The Difference Between Authoritarian and Authoritative Parenting
  4. Treat your child as another member of the family, that deserves the same consideration as their adult counterparts
  5. Let Go Of Thinking Your Child Is Manipulating You
  6. Learn What Age-Appropriate Expectations Are For Your Child
  7. Start Doing Time-In Instead Of Time-Out
  8. Learn Your Own Triggers
  9. Parent By Modeling Desired Behaviors
  10. Focus On What They Can Do vs What They Cannot

Get insider knowledge on why your toddler’s behavior is so irrational sometimes– and step by step ideas on making parenting easier.

This Value Packed Bundle Includes:

  • 5 Steps To Being A More Gentle Parent
  • 10 Mindset Shifts To Reconnect With Your Toddler
  • Parent’s Guide To Defusing Meltdowns
  • 5 Parenting Books That Changed My Life

plus receive a FREE audio book with an audile trial link enclosed

ps. you might still cry in the bathroom sometimes, but after using this resource it will be easier to bounce back on your feet!

ALL FOR FREE — download below!

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    #1 Focus On Unmet Needs Vs Bad Behavior

    Have you ever noticed that when your child starts having a meltdown in public and you try to tell them how they’re acting wrong, it only makes things worse?

    It’s very important to recognize that gentle parents don’t judge or shame children for being upset because they realize that at that moment the emotions are out of their control. Gentle guidance can help children learn how to cope with their emotions in healthy ways. 

    In gentle parenting, we focus on their unmet needs instead of the bad behavior. This means that when they act up, it’s signaling that there is an unmet need to be met. In order to learn what those needs are, its helpful to read a bit about the toddler years. I would start with No Bad Kids, by Janet Lansbury.

    Mainstream parents usually focus on the bad behavior and not meeting their child’s needs because they think it will teach them a lesson or make them feel bad enough to not do it again. This actually causes more anxiety for children, which results in even worse behavior down the road.

    Example: Your child is upset about not going to the park today.

    Instead of yelling at your child for throwing a tantrum, you can gently guide them with gentle guidance. You might say “I see that were upset right now because we couldn’t go to the park today. I will sit here with you until you feel calm enough to go play with your toys”.

    #2 Embrace Your Child’s Dependence On You Instead Of Focusing On Their Independence

    When gentle parents raise their children, they embrace the phase of dependence instead of trying to rush them into independence right away.

    This is because gentle parenting teaches that it’s okay for your child to depend on you and that this isn’t something bad or wrong. Being dependent means they still need us! This can actually be very healthy for both the parent and child because gentle parents can direct their children into certain behaviors instead of having to force them.

    They also encourage the child’s independence but not until they are ready. This means that gentle parenting encourages self-help skills like feeding themselves, getting dressed on their own, etc… But it doesn’t mean rushing your toddler out of diapers or encouraging your child to dress themselves when they aren’t ready.

    Mainstream parents might feel like their children will never become independent if they allow them to be dependent for too long and try very hard in the early years to get them doing things on their own as much as possible, even though it might make both parties frustrated.

    Example: When getting ready for preschool, your child might ask you to help them put their shoes on when you know that they are actually capable of doing it themselves.

    In Mainstream parenting, this would cause irritation from part of the parent who sees their child as “lying” or being “lazy”. In Gentle parenting, we would acknowledge that this request might come from a place of seeking connection with you, or that for some reason they just really need help this morning.

    #3 Learn The Difference Between Authoritarian And Authoritative Parenting

    Authoritarian parenting is where there are a lot of rules and the parent makes all decisions for their child. There isn’t much room for children to express themselves or question authority, and gentle parents know that this can cause problems later on in life like depression, anxiety, anger issues, and more!

    In gentle parenting, we believe it’s healthy for children to question authority and their parents. This allows children to grow up into adults who know how to make decisions for themselves, instead of always following the rules because they don’t trust that they can do a good enough job on their own.

    Authoritative parenting is where gentle parents fall in between authoritarian and permissive styles of parenting. There are still rules but gentle parents are willing to listen to their children’s opinions about those rules and try to work together with them. To clarify: gentle parenting is NOT PERMISSIVE.

    In order to become more of an authoritative parent to your child, you need to reconsider all the times you are saying “NO”. Does it have to be no? why is it no? Is it a safety issue, or just that it’s inconvenient for you? Maybe your parents would tell you no, so you do the same without questioning it.

    Example: Your toddler wants to wear two different shoes to the park.

    Your instinct is to say “NO”, because people just don’t do that. Well, is having the same color shoes on both feet a safety issue? probably not. Then let your toddler make that decision and have them go to the park with two different shoes.

    #4 Treat Your Child As Another Member Of The Family, That Deserves The Same Consideration As Their Adult Counterparts

    One thing gentle parenting encourages is treating your children more like equals rather than just being someone you have to take care of.

    When gentle parents are talking with their kids, they don’t talk down to them or treat them any differently from how they would an adult. This allows the child’s voice and opinions to be heard by all members of the family, and gentle parents know that their children are just as important as everyone else.

    In mainstream parenting families, there is a clear distinction between who is a child and who is an adult, with the latter being more important. Often adults will have more liberty to bend the rules, while children are set to an impossible standard of compliance.

    You might have heard the “while you live under my roof, you live by my rules” being used over and over both in real life and on TV. This would be a great example of mainstream parenting with an Authoritarian family.

    Example: Your child wants to stay up later to watch one extra show on their iPad.

    You normally have a strict 6pm cut off, but watching this show would push that back 20min. In a mainstream parenting household, it’s more likely that the iPad gets shut off to maintain the usual schedule.

    If you want to be a more gentle parent, consider sometimes letting your child break the rules (in moderation). If he has not watched much tv today and in fact had a long day at school, met him have that extra show.

    #5 Let Go Of Thinking Your Child Is Manipulating You


    It’s important to remember that gentle parenting is NOT permissive. That being said, gentle parents are more likely to engage with their children in ways where they don’t think the child is trying to manipulate them or get out of trouble by acting cute and innocent.

    In mainstream parenting households, gentle parents can often be seen as being manipulated by their children. When gentle parents know that they are in control of the household, and understand how to set boundaries as well as consequences for breaking those boundaries, then gentle parenting becomes a lot easier. You can be gentle and yet still maintain structure, responsibility, and consequences for bad behavior.

    Example: Your child is throwing a tantrum in the middle of the store because you won’t buy them an ice cream cone after dinner time.

    A mainstream parent might ignore it or tell their children to stop. A gentle parent will still maintain that boundary of not buying the ice-cream. But instead of getting angry at the child for their big feelings, they will acknowledge that they really wanted ice-cream and let them know when they can expect to get an ice cream next.

    The child will still be throwing a tantrum but overall the child feels understood by their parent, and the parent is calmer as they understand that it’s normal for children to lose control over their emotions, especially if they are tired.

    RELATED: How To Deal With Toddler Temper Tantrums – Gentle Parenting Guide

    #6 Learn What Age-Appropriate Expectations Are For Your Child

    The gentle parent knows that their child is an individual, and each person develops at a different pace.

    This means gentle parents have to be flexible when it comes to certain expectations of childhood milestones, especially related to independence. For example, if your toddler is not eating by himself 100% of the time, not potty trained, or not putting himself to bed at night, it’s easy to fall into mainstream parenting anxieties of doing something wrong.

    In gentle parenting there is more space for children to learn things at their own pace, allowing to be nurtured longer by their parents until they feel ready.

    Example: Your child wants company at night when going to sleep.

    In a gentle parenting family, it’s likely that the parents will continue staying with their children until they are asleep. In mainstream parenting families, this is often seen as being overindulgent and enabling bad behavior – not allowing your child to “learn” how to fall asleep on his own.

    #7 Start Doing Time-In Instead Of Time-Out

    When your child does something wrong, instead of sending him to his room for time-out (which can be seen as punishing), do “time-in”. This means sit with them while they are upset or angry and empathize with their emotions.

    Mainstream parents often find gentle parenting techniques like this to be enabling, because it can come across as the parent not setting any boundaries or consequences for bad behavior. But gentle parenting is about giving your child space and tools so they feel safe enough to express negative feelings instead of stuffing them down inside – which leads to bigger problems.

    Example: Your child throws a toy across the room repeatedly despite you telling them to stop.

    In gentle parenting you would recognize that your toddler is showing symptoms of stress, and they need your help to stop. You would physcially remove them from the situation and sit with them to help them regulate their emotions.

    This is called co-regulating, which is an important first step before your child can successfully self-regulate.

    In mainstream parenting, the parent may ignore your child’s negative behavior or follow through with a punishment like a time-out.

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    #8 Learn Your Own Triggers

    Toddlers will push our buttons on a regular basis, and even the most well-intentioned parent will lose their cool. The more we learn to find the calm within the chaos, the easier it will be to parent.

    In gentle parenting, it’s important to be gentle with yourself as well and become aware of your own triggers. You will need to look into your own childhood experiences and how they have shaped the way in which you parent today.

    Being gentle with yourself means understanding where your buttons are coming from – maybe something happened in your past that is making it hard for you to listen to your child when they are in the throes of a tantrum.

    Maybe you need some self-care techniques that focus on taking care of your own needs as well. These self-care planners are a great place to start!

    Example: You’ve had an exhausting day with no time for breaks, and it’s starting to affect not only your mood but the way you interact with your child.

    In gentle parenting, we understand that our children are just mirrors of ourselves and their negative behaviors come from a place of stress or exhaustion too.

    So when we get triggered into anger by our own children, it’s important to remove ourselves from the situation before reacting.


    #9 Parent By Modeling Desired Behaviors

    Your child is constantly learning from you – even when they aren’t aware that you’re teaching them. In gentle parenting, we focus on the things our children are actually looking at and paying attention to as a way to help guide their behavior.

    This means you need to look at your own behaviors before trying to teach new ones because what you do is infinitely more important than what you say. For gentle parenting to work, it’s essential that the parents are leading by example and modeling behaviors they would like their children to learn too.

    Example: Your child keeps screaming “No, Don’t do that!” when he is displeased and stressed.

    Take a moment to notice, if you have been modeling those type of responses. Do you scream when you get upset too?In gentle parenting, you would model the behavior you want your child to learn instead of just telling them a million times not to.

    #10 Focus On What They Can Do Vs What They Cannot

    It’s easy to get caught up in the fact that kids are not perfect. They can be messy, loud, and always trying out new behaviors – but gentle parenting is about focusing on what they CAN do instead of all the things they cannot.

    Telling your child they cannot do something is inevitably laying the focus on the undesired actions. Instead, reframe the situation to focus on what they can do instead. By doing this, you are setting up the interaction to be positive rather than negative. Also, you are more likely to get the desired behavior from your child.

    Example: Your child is climbing on the table.

    Instead of saying “No, don’t climb that” try something like “climbing on the table is not safe, but you can climb on the couch instead”.

    Don’t Forget You Were A Child Once Too

    The following are a few of the most important things about gentle parenting that I want you to know. It’s not just about your child- it’s also about being a parent and what that means in relation to their needs, wants, desires, fears and everything else they may be experiencing at different stages in life.

    What is really going on when our kids seem manipulative or indifferent? When should I intervene? How can I teach them self-control without feeling like an authoritarian dictator who has no idea how tough childhood actually was for me?

    These questions aren’t always easy to answer but with a little patience and consideration -parents will learn how best to parent by modeling desired behaviors instead of focusing solely on what children cannot do. We’re excited to explore gentle parenting and these concepts further with you!

    Download this mini gentle parenting bundle to shift from mainstream parenting to gentle parenting today!

    Get insider knowledge on why your toddler’s behavior is so irrational sometimes– and step by step ideas on making parenting easier.

    This Value Packed Bundle Includes:

    • 5 Steps To Being A More Gentle Parent
    • 10 Mindset Shifts To Reconnect With Your Toddler
    • Parent’s Guide To Defusing Meltdowns
    • 5 Parenting Books That Changed My Life

    plus receive a FREE audio book with an audile trial link enclosed

    ps. you might still cry in the bathroom sometimes, but after using this resource it will be easier to bounce back on your feet!

    ALL FOR FREE — download below!

      Share with a Friend!