Gentle Parenting

What is the Gentle Parenting Approach?

Gentle parenting is an approach that is centered on mutual empathy and understanding. While some parenting techniques follow certain guidelines and rules, gentle parenting is more of a “way of being” that promotes feelings of security and inspires positive growth for both the child and the parent!

Gentle Parenting: Where to Start

In order to use gentle parenting effectively, it is important that parents first explore their own anxieties and insecurities. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. We all bring with us experiences that could get in the way of us gently approaching our kiddos. 

Maybe you had a parent who yelled at you when you were young, so when your child yells at you, it creates feelings of anxiety? Or maybe you had an absent parent, and your fear of not being enough for your child is crippling because you know how hard that can be? 

The truth is since no parent is perfect we all bring baggage to the table, BUT the more aware of this baggage we are, the better able we are to deal with it and be fully present with our children!

Why Does Gentle Parenting Work? 

Gentle parenting is thought to be successful, because it “meets children where they’re at” developmentally versus expecting them to master skills that even some adults can’t get right! When we can meet a child where they’re at, we acknowledge that their behaviors are what is expected based on their brain development, which means that we need to address those behaviors in a way that makes the most sense to the child. 

Rather than pathologizing “bad behavior,” it acknowledges that children behave in ways that just make sense given their needs in that moment. Parents ask themselves, “what is my child trying to communicate to me in this moment?” For example, a child who is screaming in a busy grocery store may be feeling overwhelmed by the chaotic environment, is hungry or tired, or might be needing reassurance from his/her parent that they are safe. 

Although some would look at this behavior as simply unacceptable, gentle parenting suggests that there is always a logical reason why children act the way they do and when we can find out “why” we can support them better through that unwanted behavior, which ultimately builds mutual trust and respect! 

Let's Talk. Schedule a Free Consultation Today.

Gentle Parenting Challenges

Although gentle parenting is helpful for many families, parents may encounter some challenges with this approach: First, some parents might be so focused on meeting their child where they’re at that it can be tempting to become overly permissive and allow all behaviors to play out without setting appropriate boundaries. 

Second, gentle parenting requires significant self-control as a parent, which could be too difficult for some parents with unresolved experiences or past trauma, or those who have a hard time regulating their own stress. 

In this case, it may be helpful to speak with someone, like an online therapist or coach, who can help you through those barriers so that you can be more present and attentive to your child. As a parenting coach and family therapist, I have found it helpful to work with many parents on their own reactions to their children and where that reaction comes from while implementing gentle parenting. 

Gentle Parenting and Discipline

Some people believe gentle parenting to be too “soft” and absent of discipline. However this is not the case! In fact, gentle parenting views discipline as a necessary tool to teach children not only how to behave but how to have good relationships with others. After all, the word “discipline” means “to teach.”

Discipline in gentle parenting first involves reassuring the child that you love them by meeting the child’s needs and then offering clear and consistent boundaries in order to promote safety and security. There is no traditional positive or negative reinforcement in gentle parenting, but rather the focus is on connecting because the more connected we feel to our parent, the more we trust that their boundaries are good for us. 

I once heard someone say, “the most important thing for your child to hear after ‘I love you’ is ‘I won’t let you’.” Gentle Parenting is just that: a balance of firmness and kindness. 

To tackle a tantrum, gentle parenting suggests:

  1. Getting down to their level (literally) and reassure them that they are allowed to feel emotions! 
  2. Provide empathy by actively listening to what is making them feel so upset (even if it seems ridiculous to you), and then…
  3. Naming how they are feeling so that they can better communicate that feeling in the future. The goal is not to prevent or redirect all negative emotions. The goal is to help teach your child how to communicate and deal with negative emotions when they happen. 


Gentle Parenting a Strong-Willed Child

How do you practice gentle parenting with a strong-willed child? Patience and empathy! Think about it this way, if someone is repeating the same darn thing to you they must REALLY need you to understand what they’re saying. The same is true for children who are strong-willed. They may think they know what is best so they fight you to convince you that their way is better. 

Ultimately, they need to understand that as the adult and parent, you actually know better! AND that you’re willing to hear them and respect them, that their feelings matter, and you’re there to support them. But supporting them doesn’t have to mean you’ll do everything they ask… I think we can all agree most of the time candy for dinner isn’t actually the best idea!

Just remember, consistency is key! Keep redirecting towards boundaries AND reassuring them that they can trust you as their parent because you care about them. The next time your child doesn’t want to go to bed, try saying “I love you so much and I see that you are having fun and want to stay up, but I won’t let you stay up past your bedtime because your body needs sleep”. 

What to Do When Your Family and Friends Disagree with Your Gentle Parenting Style

In my work with parents, I am asked questions like “what if my parents or friends disagree with my parenting style – what if they don’t believe gentle parenting works?” And, “how can I build necessary boundaries without hurting my relationships?”

No matter what parenting style you choose there’s likely to be people who disagree with you. This doesn’t mean you have to conform to their parenting style or cut them out of your life. True to gentle parenting, kindness and firmness can be helpful tools in navigating these conversations. 

Just like children, grown-ups are more likely to respect your point of view when they feel their opinions are heard. So, try starting with asking them why they choose to parent differently. Be curious and kind just as you would with your own child, and then offer your own perspective. It may also be helpful to point to some resources, scientific studies, or specific examples of how gentle parenting has helped your family. 

If you are still met with opposition, that’s okay! Disagreeing on parenting styles is not worth losing people you care about. The important thing is that you’ve found a way of parenting that works for you. At this point, find your inner “gentle parent” and communicate “I love you, and I won’t let you”– tell that person how much you care about them and their relationship, but you won’t let them treat you poorly or let a disagreement affect your relationship with them. 

Many families have found gentle parenting to be solace in a world of parenting do’s and don'ts. The families I’ve worked with have discovered that this style of parenting not only helped their children learn new positive behaviors, but they’ve also found their parent-child relationship is stronger! My hope for you is that you might find gentle parenting to be just as meaningful. 

With kindness, 
Georgi Chizk


Bentonville Arkansas Marriage Counselor Bentonville Therapist Bentonville Premarital Counseling Bentonville Family Therapy Online Therapy Arkansas

Georgi Chizk, M.S., LAMFT is a warm, compassionate marriage counselor, individual therapist and family therapist who creates a safe and supportive space for you to find meaning in your struggles, realize your self-worth, and cultivate healthy connections with the most important people in your life.

If you are interested in learning more about the gentle parenting approach or would like support in your parenting journey, Georgi is an excellent parenting coach and family therapist. 



Real Help, To Move You Forward


Everyone experiences challenges, but only some people recognize these moments as opportunities for growth and positive change.



Working with an expert therapist or life coach can help you understand yourself more deeply, get a fresh perspective, grow as a person, and become empowered to create positive change in yourself, your relationships and your life.



Start your journey of growth today by scheduling a free consultation.

Related Post

Tips to Survive Quarantine with Kids

Tips to Survive Quarantine with Kids

Looking for survival tips while in quarantine with kids? We get it! Jessica Small, M.A., LMFT is a Denver-based Marriage Therapist and Parenting Coach. Today she's bringing you the Survival Manual (7 Tips for surviving this quarantine with kids) when you might just need it the most! Read now…

Coparenting Together

Coparenting Together

Parenting with a partner can be difficult. It's not unusual to have different ideas of how to raise your children, but working together and building strategies for success can help ease some of those uncomfortable conversations. Couples therapist and parenting coach Jessica Small, M.A., LMFT shares 5 Coparenting Strategies for a successful partnership on this week's The Love, Happiness and Success blog post!

Feeling Judged?

Feeling Judged?

Do you feel apprehensive about spending the holidays with family or in-laws who judge and criticize you? On the latest podcast we're talking about how to deal when you're feeling judged, but also how to use this as an opportunity for YOUR growth and personal evolution.

Emotional Affair Recovery

Emotional Affair Recovery

Emotional affairs can be just as destructive to a relationship as sexual affairs. However, it is possible to restore trust, feel secure, and heal your bond after an affair. Here's how…

5 Powerful Parenting Tips

5 Powerful Parenting Tips

Welcoming a new baby comes with many joys and challenges. Parenting and Family Coach Hunter Tolman shares five tips to help you start feeling more confident throughout your parenting journey.

The Problem With Perfectionism

The Problem With Perfectionism

Do you ever feel the pressure to ALWAYS be perfect (even when life is everything but perfect)?? To be happy, healthy, and successful are all goals that we want to achieve, but sometimes just acknowledging reality and living true to yourself is really what you need to live a full life. Today on The Love, Happiness and Success blog we are talking about the problem with perfectionism and why you should “keep the first picture.”

How To Avoid Unrealistic Expectations

How To Avoid Unrealistic Expectations

Do You Find Yourself Feeling Dissatisfied In Your Relationship? Couples counselor and therapist Georgi Chizk, M.S., LAMFT shares how you can avoid unrealistic expectations in your relationship with insight into where our unrealistic expectations come from and how to transform them into a healthy relationship.