What is panda parenting, the new more gentle approach to bringing up children?

Would you give panda parenting a go? [Photo: Getty]
Would you give panda parenting a go? [Photo: Getty]

Move over tigers, helicopters and snow ploughs, there’s a new parenting set on the nursery run and their approach is really quite different. Wave hello to panda parents.

Coined by author Esther Wojcicki the popular parenting style is appealing to more and more mums and dads, but what is it?

Simply put, panda parenting is all about gently guiding your little one as opposed to shoving them down the parenting path.

Where snow plough mums and dads mow down obstacles in their child’s way, and helicopters hover behind prepared to step in at a moment’s notice, pandas are all about giving their little ones the freedom to do things their own way.

According to author Wojcicki the largely hands-off parenting style combines a mixture of hard and soft techniques to offer the “perfect ratio of cuddliness and claw.”

Advocates of this outside-the-box parenting claim guiding rather than pushing their children along the way, helps them to be more independent, while also encouraging them to develop a sense of responsibility.

READ MORE: Stacey Solomon opens up about her fears over leaving the house with her new baby

For some parents, particularly those who are filled with horror at the idea of having to help their child make a medieval castle out of lolly sticks, this paired-back approach will offer a refreshing release from the more ‘active’ types of parenting.

The problem is in the judgy, judgy world we live in, this relaxed way of bringing up children is likely to draw cries of laziness.

“Panda mums aren’t lazy,” Wojcicki told Daily Mail.

“What they do is give children scaffolding to let them go free. Instead of always intervening, you only help when they need it.”

So does being a panda parent mean you can effectively hand over some of the childcare to nanny screen time?

“You have to compromise,” Esther explains. “Let children have two hours screen time, with one hour on apps you think are important, then, during the other, they can play on ones they think are important.”

Move over tiger mums, panda parenting is a far more hands-off approach to bringing up children [Photo: Getty]
Move over tiger mums, panda parenting is a far more hands-off approach to bringing up children [Photo: Getty]

READ MORE: How much is too much to contribute to a teacher's end-of-year present?

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.

The lawnmower parenting term was first coined last year by an anonymous writer on the We Are Teachers blog and is defined as “parents who go to whatever lengths necessary to prevent their child from having to face adversity, struggle or failure.

“Instead of preparing children for challenges, they mow obstacles down so kids won’t experience them in the first place.”

Like their snowploughing counterparts, lawnmower parents’ intentions are likely well meaning, but they also could actually be doing more harm than good.

“I think that most lawnmower parents come from a good place. But in raising children who have experienced minimal struggle, we are not creating a happier generation of kids,” the author who coined the phrase wrote.

“We are creating a generation that has no what idea what to do when they actually encounter struggle. A generation who panics or shuts down at the mere idea of failure.”

Panda mums and dads, on the other hand, take a far less structured approach and fans of the style say there are quite a few benefits including having their self-esteem boosted by parents who try to be as positive as possible.

So if being a tiger mum really isn’t your thing, and mowing the parenting lawn seems a tad too much work, maybe being a panda parent is worth a go?