What Is Gentle Parenting?

Gentle parenting is about recognizing your child as an individual and responding to their needs. The tools of gentle parenting are connection, communication, and consistency.

Gentle parenting is built on a foundation of:

  • understanding your child
  • empathizing with them
  • showing them respect
  • setting boundaries

Basic practices of gentle parenting


Be aware of your child’s feelings and needs. There’s a reason your child is behaving in a certain way. Be there with them.

Try to figure out what they want and if they’re old enough, ask them. Show them that what’s important to them is important to you too.


Children are little humans with their own feelings and preferences. And yet, often, in the rush of life, we seem to forget that. Respect means treating your child the way you’d want to be treated.

Talk to them the way you’d want someone to talk to you. Instead of telling your child to “be quiet” when they interrupt the chat you’re having with a friend in the grocery, explain to them that in a few moments you’ll be free to listen to them.


Research shows that the brain grows rapidly during the first 18 months of life. Since children’s brains are still developing, they don’t have the same control over their behavior that we expect from adults.

Gentle parenting encourages parents to check that their expectations are age-appropriate. A child isn’t throwing a tantrum because they enjoy the noise; they just don’t have a better way to ask you for what they want.


Don’t be afraid to set boundaries for your child, but do remember that the fewer rules you have, the easier you’ll find it to be consistent.

Think of boundaries as rules that teach your child a better way of doing things. Boundaries make your child feel safe. They know what to expect and what’s expected of them.

Reward and punishment

Rewards and punishments aren’t a focus in the gentle parenting method. That’s because of the belief that a system of reward and punishment teaches a child to behave in a specific way in order to get a prize or avoid unpleasant consequences.

Gentle parenting aims to motivate the child from the inside and not to go after the carrot at the end of the stick.

Gentle parenting is a newly named approach, so research-backed evidence is scarce. However, research shows that positive bonding between parent and child leads to children who can become happy, independent, and resilient adults.

Excerpted from “What Is Gentle Parenting?” in Healthline. Read the full article online for additional details and to learn how ‘gentle parenting’ compares to other parenting styles.

Source: Healthline | What Is Gentle Parenting?, https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/gentle-parenting | © 2005-2023 Healthline Media a Red Ventures Company
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