What to do When Gentle Parenting Isn’t Working
You’ve responded to your baby’s needs, held them, rocked them and fed them on demand – yet they still cry lots.
You’ve responded to your toddler with empathy and unconditional love – yet they still bite
You’ve listened to your 8 year old and spent time re-connecting – yet they still sulk and shout at you
Maybe gentle parenting doesn’t work?
Or does it? The issue here is that gentle parenting isn’t a quick fix. It’s not about ‘getting babies to sleep through – gently’ or ‘stopping toddler tantrums – gently’, or ‘getting tweens to do their homework – gently’. It’s about building foundations for the future, opening doorways of connection that will help you both in days and years to come and shaping your child’s personality so that they can grow to be kind, empathic, inquisitive, independent and confident.
We are too focussed on the ‘now’. Gentle parenting methods can and do help greatly in the short term, they can transform lives within a month or two – BUT – it is what they do in the long term that is important and naturally to ‘judge’ that you need to wait a lot, lot longer. You are likely to find that you will change as much as your child, if not moreso. Gentle parenting can bring a complete metamorphosis for the whole family and can impact on your adult relationships with your partner, friends and family.
Quick fixes always come at a price, but that price usually comes after the results. With gentle parenting the price comes before the results and that’s something that our society just isn’t used to.
Gentle parenting is hard, it is an investment, an investment into your child’s future as well as your own and those that will follow down the generations, but it’s not quick fix and it’s not easy. Gentle parenting also involves a long hard look at yourself and the way that you behave and indeed the way that you were parented – this introspection can be perhaps the hardest and most painful part of all, but in many ways it is the most necessary.
Gentle parenting isn’t about instantly soothing crying babies or stopping toddler tantrums in their tracks. Gently parented babies still cry, they still get colic and they still wake frequently at night. Gently parented toddlers still bite, hit, kick and throw and they still don’t eat their vegetables. Gently parented tweens and teens still talk back, still slam doors and still come home after their curfew, but none of this is really what gentle parenting is about.
In time (and that time may be years from now) a gently parented child will enjoy close relationships with their parents and will feel able to share their troubles – whether that be peer pressure, school work concerns or bullying. In time a gently parented child will find it easier to be happy in their own skin and enjoy the confidence to have meaningful relationships with others, they will find it easier to speak their own mind and be in control of their own emotions and in time gently parented children will raise a whole other generation of emotionally intelligent children.
Gentle parenting does work, you just need to wait a little longer and look at the bigger picture.
By Sarah Ockwell-Smith – Our resident Baby and Toddler Expert.