Family and Friends Lifestyle

What is Gentle Parenting?

A mother talking with her son.

Choose the health content that’s right for you, and get it delivered right in your inbox.

Parenting is not one-size-fits-all, but recent studies show that a gentle approach can foster positive development in children. Learn more about gentle parenting, its benefits and how to put it into practice.

A Gentle Parenting Approach

Gentle parenting, or collaborative parenting, focuses on healthy, consistent interactions between parents and children. Rather than using a firm hand, gentle parenting relies on a softer, guiding approach where parents and kids make decisions together. This style of parenting emphasizes four components:

The gentle parenting approach also adjusts to fit children at different stages with age-appropriate discipline and limits.

Gentle parenting is different from other parenting methods like permissive parenting, where parents impose few or no rules on children, or helicopter parenting, where parents may be overly involved in their child’s life.

Benefits of Gentle Parenting

Because gentle parenting focuses on mutual understanding and respect, children can learn by watching how their parents behave in different situations. The many benefits include:

Practicing Gentle Parenting

Every family is unique, and gentle parenting will look different for each situation. Parents can practice gentle parenting by:

  • Having a plan: Situations like being late to school, having a tantrum in public or not wanting to go to bed are not uncommon; think through how you can practice gentle parenting in these situations, so you’re prepared when they inevitably come up
  • Remaining calm: Staying cool, especially if you’re in an argument or tense situation, helps model appropriate behavior for your child
  • Staying positive: Children require more praise than criticism to promote positive behavior changes
  • Tailoring your approach: While a baby crying in the middle of the night or a toddler refusing to sleep can be challenging, these actions aren’t your child acting up; providing comfort in these situations is important
  • Teaching empathy: When kids aren’t behaving as you’d like, encourage them to ask questions that will help them respond to their emotions and clue them into yours; for example, ask how they think you feel in a tough situation

Challenges of Gentle Parenting

Gentle parenting requires buy-in from parents, extended family members and other caregivers like teachers, daycare providers and babysitters. Children need to have consistency from all the adults in their lives, especially when it comes to managing challenging behavior. Setting these expectations means children know how to behave, regardless of the situation.

For many parents, it’s easy to fall back on what they know, including how they were raised. The rewards and punishments system is the most common. However, punishments such as spanking, a practice not recommended by most pediatricians, causes children to feel fear and anxiety. That’s why gentle parenting is being practiced by and is working for many families today.

Time and patience from parents are required for gentle parenting success. Having an empathetic approach to your child’s behavior means getting to know them on a deeper level. It also requires that your child has the capacity to be able to process their emotions, which means they feel safe to do so.

Find the Parenting Style That Works for Your Family

When it comes to raising happy, healthy children, there’s not one right answer. When you have questions or need additional support, AdventHealth is here to help. With kid-centered care from specialized pediatric experts, our team is committed to whole-person health for your child and your family. Learn more.

Recent Blogs

A Senior Wipes His Forehead While Out in the Hot Summer Sun
Heat Wave Poses Extra Risk to Patients on Certain Medications
A young woman explores her choices for menstrual medication.
First Aid Kit Essentials
Your 2024 Wellness Checklist
A Physician Checks a Smiling Baby's Breathing with a Stethoscope
Identifying and Caring for Hernias in Children
What to Talk About in Therapy
View More Articles