Day Two: Share One Thing that Has Helped You Become a More Gentle Parent

My Share:
For me, one of the things that has made the most impact on my ability to be a more gentle parent is this: I made the choice to try and model a different way of dealing with mistakes. What would normally happen when I made a mistake is I would become very frustrated and snappish and singleminded about fixing my mistake. I would get annoyed at my pets, at my kids, anyone who was near me when the mistake was made. This has been my response since I was a child.

Now, when I make a mistake I try to focus on teaching my children about fixing mistakes. I will tell them that I have made a mistake. I have dropped something. I have made a mess. I have done something wrong on the project that I’m working on. I will tell them that I am frustrated. I will talk them through what I did, what I should have done, what the cleanup will be, and then I will follow through by taking care of the mistake that I have made.

By viewing it as a teaching experience for them and consciously and deliberately slowing down and involving them, I am modeling behaviors that will help them a lot as they get older.  As an added bonus, when I make mistakes I’m finding that I am forgiving myself a lot faster. I’m not feeling like snapping at everyone. And I’m slowing down to think about what will actually help the situation instead of getting upset with the situation and myself and sometimes making everything worse instead of better.

Your turn to share!
In celebration of the Nurshable Facebook page hitting 10K likes, we’re doing five days of sharing stories about gentle parenting, and a give-away at the end of each day.

I’ve shared my story above, you can share your story in the comments below and I’ll use to pick a random comment and the commenter will receive one of each of the things that I sell in the Nurshable store. (One copy of Keenie + Zeebie, One copy of Mac & Cheese Please, and two Wait It Out bracelets.) You can visit the Nurshable store by clicking here.


18 thoughts on “Day Two: Share One Thing that Has Helped You Become a More Gentle Parent

  1. Hearing how my husband was raised and how he wants things so different for his own son. Knowing that it all boils down to our own actions and outlooks on parenting. Both of our own struggles with emotions and tough situations are an example of how gentle parenting is the route we should be heading.

  2. I actually have a similar history, easily blaming others. But, I too also decided to model something different. I have been working on this too. I try to talk aloud about my mistakes, handle them, problem solve, without shaming myself either. I already see my 4.5 year old starting to do this.

  3. one thing that have helped me to be a good gentle parent honestly was my bad experecience as a child with my mom and dad….. the way they used to hit me yelled at me and how they make me go to the border to try to kill my self, the way that i ahve never been able to accept myself as beautiful and how now im actually earning to control my emotions and dont explode with the people around me… the thinking to know i dont want my daugther to grow with the same issues i did because i never understood why they did it… and i honestly never care about them… and i want my daugther to be able to talk with me love her self and express her emotion with words!

  4. I am the same way when I’m frustrated- it’s like my emotions shut down, with the exception of anger, and I am working hard to break that pattern. One of the biggest things that has helped me, honestly, has been reading to her. She LOVES books, and often I am not in the mood to read, but when I do, it makes me slow down, engage with her, let go of my hangups (about making goofy noises/faces), and see everything through her eyes. After we finish a book (usually for the 594th time in a row), I am generally calmer and more connected…. although I usually don’t want to see that same book again for about 2 weeks! LOL

  5. My husband is a pastor and we talk so much together and as a church community about grace and offering grace to ourselves and others when we feel anger or judgement impending. Responding with compassion and grace to my husband and my 9 week old (who is just learning to express his needs) is an ongoing journey, but seems like one of the most worthy tasks I could take on. I’m thankful to have a spouse who models that behavior so gently for me.

  6. My biggest assist in being a gentle parent is talk. I talk *all day long.* I got into the habit of explaining everything, and now that my little is talking up a storm, I use every moment I can to teach her new words to identify her world. A lot of that talk is emotions! “Mommy feels x because…” “Can we talk about why you feel you need to x, y, z?” “When cousin does x, how do you feel?”

    I have noticed now (at 2.5) she will take a “break” and go take a few deep breaths to calm herself before trying to address the emotion/problem! She learned that from ME! That’s huge, especially for a person who used to completely shut down in the face of heavy emotions. Now I am leading by example and teaching language that makes my little more in control of herself than I ever was.

  7. Lilith is a week away from 30 months and suddenly power and control are everything! After doing some panic reading of Sarah’s site and aha parenting to find my strategies, we had a day which sounded like this:
    Oh you need a new nappy; where would you like to change it? Not now you’re busy? Ok well have two more minutes and then tell me where we can do it.
    Not these boots? Ok which boots would you like to wear?
    You don’t want lunch yet? Ok well how about you come and help me cook pancakes then you might feel hungry? You want to wash up too? Great – here’s the soapy water!
    You want to go out in the rain and dark? Ok well let’s get your waterproofs on and here’s a torch!! I’ll open your sandpit for you.

    Don’t get me wrong there were a few times when there wasn’t another choice, but firm kindness was well accepted amidst all of the empowerment I gave her.

    Overall it was a very peaceful and positive day which will now be the norm in this house!

    Thanks Sarah x

  8. Asking myself “Does it matter?” (in regards to what I’ve asked, what he is doing, etc – checking in with myself to avoid the power struggle. )

    Also big one – when I feel myself getting riled up, I give a big hug and it helps us both reset.

  9. When our now 2.5 year old first started throwing temper tantrums, my husband and I were determined to stop tantrums and not be manipulated. “Tantrums won’t get you what you what you want” became our moto.

    Then I read about how “manipulation” rarely is such, and tantrums stem from kids trying to communicate when they don’t have the words.

    Now our moto is “I’m sorry I don’t understand, can you help me figure out what you want? And do you need help calming down first?” Ever since then tantrums hardly ever last, and our son is much more accepting even when what he wants isn’t possible.

  10. This may sound silly, but when I start to dress my 8month old, if she is playing with or studying a toy, I will wait until she takes a “break” so that she will learn that I respect and value her time, not just my own. She surely doesn’t understand these concepts yet, but I’d like to get in practice of showing her that she’s important too. I was raised to be seen not heard and don’t want to be that type of parent.

  11. Remembering the big picture has helped me become a more gentle parent. When my 13 month old daughter was first born and I struggled as all new parents do I asked myself, “if she could witness this moment as an outsider right now how would I want her to see me act and react?” Thinking this way has held me more accountable to the way I treat her, myself and my husband. It connects me with the good, loving intentions that I know I have in my heart. This is my time to be a parent, and I will not get these moments back. I choose to spend them loving, listening and growing right along with my daughter in a way that nurtures our entire family.

  12. For me, becoming a more gentle parent started with the quote “Listen earnestly to anything [your children] want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.” by Catherine M. Wallace. When I first heard it I just thought it was cute, but the more I thought about it the more meaning I took from it. When my daughter became a little toddler and started “misbehaving” in the traditional sense, I realized that to her, not being able to reach that toy under the sofa was BIG. SO big. I’m an adult, and that is a small thing for me because I have a large body and long arms and patience, which she doesn’t have yet. Through that mindset, I was able to look at her tantrums through HER perspective. When I say no to a cookie, she doesn’t understand that dinner is soon, she just wants a cookie NOW. And maybe mommy means no more cookies, ever. Looking at her trials through her eyes made me realize how big they were to her, and it reminds me every day to be gentle with her. As I want people to be gentle with me when I go through my trials. Because they may be small to other people, but they are so big to me.

    1. I am a new mom to a 10 week old, so some of the things (like tantrums) that can try your patience haven’t happened to me yet. But reading your comment brought tears to my eyes. There really is so much to perspective–what is huge to one person may be small to another. The quote is a great reminder, too.

  13. Remembering that everything my child does for “fun” is for FUN and joy. If she is not experiencing joy in her dance class or gymnastics or riding lessons then she can discontinue at anytime. I see so many parents pushing and hurting their child’s feelings about not being good enough, for example at dance class. Sometimes other parent’s try to catch you up in the “drama”. They want the recital dance to be perfect so they may talk about how much they make their child practice at home –or tell you that yours needs practice…oh no you didn’t :). It is easy to start to feel swept up in that and want your child to do well. I constantly check myself and remember that it is fun and joyful or nothing. I will not criticize and push!

  14. One thing that helps me is trying to take the long view rather than what is easiest or that I think ‘should’ happen at the time. This is often difficult, and I certainly do not always succeed! But they are only small for a few short years. I find children often need us most when they are at their most difficult. If I model being calm and rational even when they are not, I hope it helps them acquire the tools they will need when faced with the things that inevitably go wrong in life.

  15. The above comment are great, shine the light from another angle. Wonderfull!
    For me a big turnaround was losing my role… not being mummy, but being real. mummy had less patience..less helicopter view…less love(and I thought there was endless)…less of everything. Once I lost that… the love deepened to the bone…to the soul… and it keeps on growing and growing. Instead of fearing the future…I now trust it :)
    I started off with talking to the kids as if I spoke to my best friend. And I realized there was a switch. And from there I just came more and more to be ME.

  16. One thing that has helped me become a more gentle parent – learning to be more gentle with myself. If I am happy, settled, content and cared for then not only is it easy to be gentle with others and listen well etc, but it just multiples the joy.

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