What is gentle parenting and why is it becoming more popular?

Gentle parents don't believe in using the word naughty [Photo: Getty]
Gentle parents don't believe in using the word naughty [Photo: Getty]

The way you choose to parent your children, is a topic that will likely draw discussion and debate.

The various different styles can range from the pushy practices of tiger parents, to the hyper-protective techniques of the snowploughs.

But recently parents are choosing to step away from a more discipline-focussed approach to bringing up their kids and are instead opting for a more gentle style of parenting.

Rather than taking a firm hand when it comes to discipline, a growing band of parents are opting for a more softly, softly approach, which involves patiently explaining the consequences of their behaviour.

Not only do gentle parents not believe in losing their temper or saying ‘no’ to their little ones, you’ll never hear them calling their children ‘naughty’ or putting them on the naughty step.

Instead the technique is characterised by empathy, respect and understanding and relies on teaching children to do what is right by using positivity and patience, rather than fear or punishment.

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"Gentle parenting is a growing movement focusing on really understanding your child. Instead of a system of punishment and rewards, it works on trying to elicit natural co-operation and harmony within the family,” explains Cathy Ranson, editor of ChannelMum.com.

Critics of the approach will no doubt argue that children raised by gentle parents will not understand when they’ve done wrong if they are never told off, but Ramson says this isn’t the case.

"There is a misconception that it's letting your child do whatever they want without telling them off but that's simply not true,” she explains.

“Gentle parenting encourages parents to see all behaviour as communication – even the tantrums – and to become more in tune with what your child is telling you through verbal and non-verbal communication.

"It also stops the 'them and me' divide where parents feel they have to 'manage' their child and works to reset the parent to think of themselves as at one it the family until unit with their little one,” she adds.

"Of course, in reality, it won't always work perfectly but it's an excellent start if you're keen to be more mindful about the way you parent."

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Parents are adopting a more gentle approach to parenting [Photo: Getty]
Parents are adopting a more gentle approach to parenting [Photo: Getty]

This more gentle approach to parenting children seems to be catching on, particularly when it comes to moving away from more strict forms of discipline used by generations before.

The once popular parenting technique of popping a little one on the naughty step to think about their actions is now being phased out, with nurseries saying that they no longer use the term or the method due to its “negative connotations”.

A recent poll of 1,000 nursery workers, by daynurseries.co.uk, revealed that 74 per cent of nurseries said they do not agree with having a ‘naughty step’ - where children are asked to sit in a particular place and reflect on what they’ve done.

Instead, staff are encouraged to take children to one side and talk them through why some things are acceptable and some are not.

What’s more 95 per cent of nursery staff are not allowed to call children naughty and should use other ways to manage behaviour instead.

It isn’t the first time a more gentle approach to parenting has been highlighted as a trend.

Earlier this year, panda parents were revealed as appealing to more mums and dads.

Coined by author Esther Wojcicki the popular parenting style is all about gently guiding your little one as opposed to shoving them down the parenting path.

But the panda approach to parenting is really quite different to lawnmower mums and dads who are more about pre-empting problems rather than leaving children to figure it out for themselves.