What is Gentle Parenting?

natasham:

The universe sends you exactly what you need, when you need it!
I’ve had a really tough week, mainly because my gentle parenting method of S was compromised and I felt pushed into a situation that goes against how I’d like to parent him. And then this post by Sarah popped into my inbox yesterday. And quite honestly, I couldn’t have said it better myself!
Many people are of the belief that 2 year olds don’t know what they want, that children need to be forced into things because “they don’t know better” and often we find ourselves at the receiving end of unsolicited advice.
For me, this post sums up how I parent my child. The importance of listening to what he wants, responding to his needs and keeping him happy as much as I can. Because what’s more important than a happy child?
Sure, he’s 2 and he’ll tantrum and he’ll go through various emotions and often get upset at not being able to express himself. But he knows his mama is always there. As Sarah so eloquently puts it, “Gentle parenting is not permissive parenting” (and I’ve said the same thing before). It’s not always about giving into your child or letting them call the shots but taking the time to listen to what they need.
Sarah’s post was just the “gentle” reminder I needed this weekend :)

Originally posted on Sarah Ockwell-Smith:

What is Gentle Parenting?

In my opinion it can be summed up with just four words:

1. Empathy

2. Respect

3. Understanding

4. Boundaries

Image1. Empathy

Parenting with your child’s feelings in mind as much as possible. Using empathy (or what some psychologists call ‘mind-mindedness’) to gain insight into your child’s behaviour and using empathy to decide what action you should take in response. The key here really is thinking “would I like it if somebody did this to me?” if the answer is “no”, then why would you do it to your child?

2. Respect

Respecting your child as much as you would respect an adult. For some reason in our society we afford children little respect. We constantly tell them what to do, what they like and dislike and perhaps worst of all the constant “be quiet” commands. We don’t really ‘hear’ them enough. Why did he hit…

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Choosing kindness

Earlier in the week I read a beautiful article about choosing kindness.

For me, it was a very apt read given a scenario I am currently facing. I feel like as women and mother’s, we take the world on our shoulders. Wanting to do the best for our partners, our children, our extended families that very often we neglect ourselves. I’ve seen it time and time again with women around me. Sacrificing our desires for those we love.

Very often when I am faced with a certain situation, I find myself being much harsher on myself than I would if a friend came to me for advice in the same situation. Reading this article reminded me of how important it is to choose kindness. But not just in the way we behave with others, but in the way we treat ourselves.

We can choose to be kind in almost every moment of our day: holding the door open for someone, greeting a shop clerk with a smile, saying thank you to the bus driver, interacting with our family, even looking in the mirror. Throughout the day we have ample opportunity to choose kindness and it doesn’t cost us anything.

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And what goes hand in hand with kindness, is gratitude. About 90 days ago, I started the 100 happy days project on Instagram. The idea is to upload an image a day that brought me happiness. More recently, Dino Daswani of Dino’s words of wisdom blog started an online gratitude thread. He’s encouraged people from around the world to name one thing they are grateful for each day. So often we can name many things we’re grateful for: our family, good health, wealth, friends, etc. But gratitude is not just about recognising what we are grateful for but rather practicing what we are grateful for. And practicing making choices to be a better person.

Essentially none of us are bad people, but often because of our egos and our fears, we do and say negative things. We think the worst of people, we doubt people and eventually muddy our own peace of mind. I’ve been at the receiving end of some unkindness recently but rather than ask “why?”, going forward I’ll be choosing kindness wherever I can because in order to change the world, we need to first change ourselves.

R.I.P. Peaches Geldof

I’d always heard of Peaches Geldof but never really knew much about her. Until last Autumn when she faced Katie Hopkins on This Morning and held her own when talking about attachment parenting. She was a “bad girl”, gone good. At the age of 24 she was a mother of 2 beautiful boys, Astala and Phaedra.

Just last week I was reading an article in Mother & Baby about her. She was to be their monthly columnist and was introduced by Editor-in-chief Claire Irvin. Through her Instagram pictures and words, you could see just how much she loved her boys. She was quoted as saying “Since I’ve had the boys, I don’t think of the world as a negative place any more. I just have so much love. And, through my love for them, I have reborn into a better, more understanding, more patient person – I feel like an adult.” I couldn’t agree with her more, I feel exactly the same way.

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Shortly after her death, Bob Geldof released the following statement on behalf of his family:

“Peaches has died,” he said. “We are beyond pain. She was the wildest, funniest, cleverest, wittiest and the most bonkers of all of us. Writing ‘was’ destroys me afresh. What a beautiful child. How is this possible that we will not see her again? How is that bearable? We loved her and will cherish her forever. How sad that sentence is.”

And later, her husband Thomas went on to say:

“My beloved wife Peaches was adored by myself and her two sons, Astala and Phaedra, and I shall bring them up with their mother in their hearts every day. We shall love her forever.”

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I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for her family and my thoughts and prayers are with them. I really hope her boys grow up knowing just how kick ass their mom was!! I’ll miss your honest, funny and down-to-earth columns in Mother & Baby each month. Rest In Peace Peaches Geldof.

You can read her final column here.

Do schools teach us to “stay in our boxes”?

I’m aware that the question “Do schools teach us to “stay in our boxes”?” is a highly debateable one. I have studied in several different streams of education and I can tell you that many of the generalisations do exist: From the age of 7-11 I went to an Indian School. It was English medium but the fashion in which we learnt was very much rote learning. I’d spend hours memorising lengthy answers to different questions. I could read Hindi but not understand what I was reading, purely because I was taught how to recognise the alphabets and not actually interpret the words. I then went on to study in India (at an international school) and it was pretty much the same. Mug it all up, parrot fashion. When I was in school in Dublin, things changed. We were taught in a different method. In math, for example, you got points for method and not just the answer. There was a transition year between what is equivalent to GCSEs and A Levels and during this year we were encouraged to participate in different projects, go on field trips and develop a broader view to learning, outside of the classroom. Other generalisations like American schools are creative but not academic, etc. often stand true for many people I know.

Essentially though, I don’t think it matters. Some of the smartest entrepreneurial people I know, didn’t go to university. And some very smart MBA people I know, are out of jobs at the moment. In the end, I don’t think “success” is defined necessarily by how well you did in school, unless your field is very specific (but that’s a post for another day).

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The reason I ask this question today is because of something that happened in the last week. At the start of the week, a friend asked me to vote for her niece who was taking part in a school project in Hong Kong. The project was about preserving the water system in Hong Kong. The school said that the winner would be the project that got the most likes on Facebook. So after looking at what she was proposing, I voted for her and then shared the status on my wall. Other people voted for her from that and shared the status. Anyway, a few days ago, my friend was over and she was on Face Time with her niece. So I asked her how she did and if she won and she told me she was disqualified. Why? Because she’d found an app that gave you free likes for every picture of theirs that you liked and so in the end she got over 2,000 likes (and obviously would have won!) Sounds ingenious doesn’t it? Except the school didn’t accept it and disqualified her.

In today’s cut throat world, thinking outside the box, like she did, would be seen as an asset but at school, she was disqualified. There are many educational institutes who recognise that classroom controlled learning isn’t exactly what children need to survive in the real world and are instead taking their children outside the box. Examples would be the Waldorf Steiner school and the Montessori system. The belief is that children will learn at their own pace and in their own ways and so the classrooms are child led rather than teacher led.

I’m not totally convinced of these schools, only because I do believe that some sort of structure is required in a classroom. But, I also believe traditional schools need to start allowing for more creativity and out of the box thinking. You only have to watch any of the big TV shows (Greys Anatomy, Suits, Scandal, etc.) to see how important out of the box thinking is, even for professionals. The simple fact is…books can only take us so far but it’s the way we think that can change our lives.