Gentle Parenting has gained a lot of popularity these days and you might be wondering, “How does one become a gentle parent?” I type these words right after telling my oldest, “You’re being disrespectful, go get your math book, NOW.” (This is not an example of gentle parenting if you were wondering.) Gentle Parenting is becoming more and more popular because many parents want to choose a different parenting direction than maybe they experienced. Usually, this means less focused on punishments and more focused on seeing your child’s behavior as a window into what’s going on inside them, seeking a genuine connection, and choosing respectful interactions with your kids.
I was introduced to the concept of Gentle Parenting five years ago when my middle child was a newborn. A group of friends of mine from college all felt pulled in this direction albeit uncertain about how to proceed. This led us on a journey together and for five years we’ve been reading gentle parenting books and discussing gentle parenting methods. But the absolute best book we’ve read on the subject is Good Inside by Dr. Becky Kennedy. You might be familiar with Dr. Becky’s Instagram account where she shares all sorts of insightful tidbits about how to connect with your kids and grow in cooperation together. She began sharing this parenting info in 2020 and has since gone viral with her kind voice, straightforward approach, and genuine compassion for both kids and parents.
I’ve read some really great parenting books but there are a few things that stick out about Good Inside. First of all, Dr. Becky provides practical and helpful methods for ways to connect with our kids and how this will positively impact their behaviors. And y’all, I’ve honestly found her methods effective. She talks about how we view ourselves and our kids in general, how to correct negative behavior, and how to make repairs when we mess up by acting in impatience or anger. She also empowers parents to deal with their own needs, explaining that both we and our kiddos will do better when we’ve tended to our personal needs. I love this quote from the chapter on Self Care, “I hope they (my kids) never say any version of, ‘My mom ran herself into the ground while she parented me.’” Dr. Becky advocates for parents to pursue their own health and care so we can be the parents our kids need.
One of my favorite concepts that Dr. Becky talks about is that of repair with our kids. She in no way expect us to be perfect parents all the time. She says, “The goal is never to get it right all the time. That’s not a thing.” Instead, one of the best things is to get really good at practicing “repair” which is the simple concept of acknowledging when we as parents have dropped the ball. Whether that’s because of yelling or acting unkindly, we can go back and make it right with our kids by acknowledging our wrongdoing and connecting with them after a challenging moment.
Dr. Becky also outlines specific challenging behaviors and how to respond to them. She has chapters on sibling rivalry, lying, separation anxiety, and more. She gives very straightforward ways to deal with each of these. After finishing the book, I’ve found myself coming back to these chapters again and again and practicing these methods. What is really amazing is that I’ve seen changes in myself first and those changes have led to positive responses from my kids.
One of my favorite ideas she has is to come up with mantras for when we are in a challenging moment with our kids. For instance, at bedtime, if my kids are crying or throwing a fit, I say to myself, “This moment will end, my kids will be asleep soon. This moment will end, my kids will be asleep soon.” I can’t tell y’all how helpful this is in calming myself down and getting through a stressful thirty to forty-five minutes!
Honestly, I could go on and on with things I found encouraging, eye-opening and useful. I underlined so much of the book and return to it again and again. I also love following Dr. Becky on Instagram and picking up her wised there. The book can be summed up by this quote, “When children feel seen and sense their parent is a teammate and not an adversary, and when they’re asked to collaborate in problem-solving…good things happen.” If you’re on the Gentle Parenting journey or want to be, read this book!