Parenting can be a tricky business. Over the years, untold experts and parenting books have presented "the best" way to parent. One of these propositions is peaceful parenting, some also believe that it is gentle parenting. Using this healthy parenting method, experts say that parents can connect with their kids on a deeper level.
If you are looking to improve your relationship with your child through a change in parenting method, online therapy can support you in getting started.
What Is Peaceful Parenting?
Peaceful parenting is a method for raising children that was created by Dr. Laura Markham, a clinical psychologist and author of several parenting books. Her philosophy is based on the understanding that authoritarian parenting is far more isolating and frightening than it is nurturing for a child. She argues that children need the support of unconditional love, in addition to understanding, empathy, and effective communication from parents.
Essentially, peaceful parenting is a parenting philosophy that requires letting go of the reigns of control, in favor of a more dialogue-heavy, understanding approach. A peaceful parent, as their title suggests, abandons harsh discipline, bursts of anger, rigid demands, constant punishment, and other forms of parenting that focus on control and manipulation. Instead, this type of parent opts for behavior and communication styles that foster collaboration, a back-and-forth dialogue, and an exchange of ideas.
Under this philosophy, caretakers are not strict authority figures but function more as guides in helping their children navigate their own feelings, their relationships, and the world.
A peaceful parent seeks to limit stress on the part of the whole family. This can have many rippling effects on other parts of your life, including the mental and physical health of you and your child. Creating a healthy home life allows children to feel stronger and more confident when out in the world and among their peers, which has been linked to lower incidences of substance abuse and risky behavior.
Essentially, peaceful parents are able to develop a strong relationship with each of their children through a series of mutually respectful interactions throughout the children’s lives.
Basic Tenets Of This Style Of Parenting
Here is an overview of the basic tenets of peaceful parenting.
Peaceful Parenting Tenet 1: Breathwork And Calmness
Have you ever started yelling without even thinking about it, reacting to your own emotions instead of your child’s? It happens to many parents at some point. That’s why breathwork and cultivating your own sense of calm and focus are some of the most important parts of the peaceful parenting philosophy.
This behavior of a peaceful parent involves stopping where you are, taking a minute and breathing, before responding or reacting to your child.
Peaceful Parenting Tenet 2: Active Listening
For many moms and dads, one of the biggest struggles is to develop the ability to truly listen to your child and to have your child or children actually listen to you. Peaceful parenting advocates recommend practicing active listening by:
- Listening to your child without interrupting
- Synthesizing what you've heard into an interpretation of their meaning
- Repeating your interpretation back to them for clarification and confirmation
They say this type of support can make a huge difference in helping kids manage big emotions and develop a greater sense of empathy.
Peaceful Parenting Tenet 3: Collaboration
Collaboration is another important tool of a peaceful parent. The idea is that by raising your children in a collaborative home, your kids learn how to exert positive control over their own lives and consider the wisdom of great advice offered by others.
Experts argue that children are far more likely to respond positively to guidelines, rules, and ideas when they are able to feel some sort of ownership of those boundaries and rules. They are also more likely to adhere to a directive when it is reached bya caretaker, rather than being demanded by them.
Tips For Peaceful Parenting
Some peaceful parenting tips include:
- not taking your child’s behavior personally
- making sure you and your child get enough sleep each night
- writing down intentions of how you want to interact with your child
- limiting your child’s behavior, but not their emotions
- controlling your own emotions and modeling positive self-talk
Markham emphasizes that a peaceful parent focuses on coaching rather than controlling. Instead of getting angry and issuing punishment, they respond to a child’s inappropriate behavior with empathy and calm words.
How Is This Style Different From Other Common Parenting Styles?
Peaceful parenting differs from many of its counterparts, such as authoritarian parenting, authoritative parenting, permissive parenting, and uninvolved parenting.
Authoritarian parenting may be the oldest and most easily-recognized of these philosophies. Purely authoritarian parents rarely limit their words when they’re angry, instead barking out orders and using threats and rewards as ways to encourage certain behaviors that fall in line with the parents' desires for a child. They use forms of punishment like timeout, which is “generally considered a form of love withdrawal,” according to Dr. Laura Markham.
Authoritative parenting is a step away from authoritarian and is often suggested as the best of the four styles. Caregivers who follow this approach typically engage with their kids more, take their feelings into consideration, and try to create a healthier, happier balance in family relationships. Still, authoritative parents maintain that they are, ultimately, the rule-makers and boundary-setters in the home. This style most closely aligns with the peaceful parenting philosophy, and studies have shown that it’s typically successful in producing happy kids with strong emotional intelligence.
Permissive parenting is exactly what it sounds like raising a child while rarely setting limits for the child’s behavior. Purely permissive parents try to build a relationship that resembles more of a close friendship than a parent/child relationship. Even if there are rules that do exist in a household that follow this philosophy, they are rarely enforced, and breaking one will likely have little to no consequence.
Although the media may portray this philosophy as ideal, it can lead to many problems later on in life such as poor self-control, egocentricity, difficulty in relationships, and difficulty adhering to expected rules and norms.
Finally, an uninvolved parent takes a backseat. These caretakers may be unsure of what’s going on in their child’s life, unaware of their children's schedules, their likes and dislikes, and their feelings. An uninvolved parent usually falls within the camp of "neglectful," but many do not do so intentionally. Instead, they are often raising children while working through issues of their own such as undiagnosed or untreated mental health issues, abusive partners, or substance abuse issues.
Potential Drawbacks Of The Peaceful Parenting Approach
The most common complaint about peaceful parenting is the method's difficulty. Because many people come to this philosophy after experiencing a problematic family dynamic, learning how to be a peaceful parent can be difficult and can even seem almost impossible at the beginning. If you and your child are perpetually locked in a power struggle, for instance, it will take time for you to learn how to stay calm without resorting to harsh discipline. It will also take your child time to learn that they can trust you enough to open up, discuss their feelings and experiences, and rely on you to offer reasonable options, rewards, and consequences as you provide gentle guidance and model emotional control.
Some might also find peaceful parenting, as a philosophy, too permissive in its scope. Because parents actively engage with their child during tantrums and acting-out behaviors, instead of ignoring or punishing the child’s behavior, some critics have suggested that the framework is too lax and can result in a child who refuses to listen to authority.
Transitioning To Peaceful Parenting: Therapy Can Help
Implementing a new parenting method can be difficult, particularly if you or your children are living with mental health conditions that make communication and emotional control more challenging. If you've found that you are simply too overwhelmed to engage in these ideas, or too nervous to start, it may be helpful to seek the help of a qualified therapist who can help you develop unique strategies and techniques for your family.
Families today are extremely busy. It can be difficult to make it to basic health and dental appointments, much less to a family therapist. Online therapy, especially through BetterHelp, can help you make your family’s mental health a priority. These types of remote sessions can eliminate the time it takes to travel to an in-person visit, making counseling feasible for you and your children.
While online counseling may seem less intimate, video-based conferencing and live streaming help bridge this gap. Studies have found that it’s still possible to make meaningful connections with therapists despite the physical distance, citing online therapy as just as effective as in-person therapy options for treating certain conditions.
What is peaceful parenting style?
Peaceful parenting is an approach to parenting that focuses on fostering a positive and respectful relationship between parents and children while prioritizing open communication, empathy, and nonviolent conflict resolution. The goal of peaceful parenting is to create a harmonious and nurturing environment that supports children's emotional well-being, self-esteem, and healthy development. This style is often rooted in principles of mutual respect, active listening, and understanding.
Peaceful parenting is different from traditional parenting techniques in that parents engage in a dialogue-heavy approach to working with their child. With this approach, parents consciously choose to use compassion rather than fear to resolve disagreements in the moment.
What are the principles of peaceful parenting?
Some of the principles of peaceful parenting include:
- Non-Violent Communication: Peaceful parenting emphasizes the use of non-violent and respectful communication when interacting with children. This involves avoiding shouting, physical punishment, and other forms of aggression.
- Empathy and Understanding: Parents practicing peaceful parenting aim to understand their children's feelings and perspectives. They acknowledge their child's emotions and provide a safe environment for them to express themselves.
- Positive Reinforcement: Peaceful parenting relies on positive reinforcement to encourage desired behavior. Praise and encouragement are used to recognize and motivate children's efforts and accomplishments.
- Active Listening: Peaceful parents actively listen to their children, validating their thoughts and feelings. This helps children feel heard and understood, fostering trust and open communication.
- Setting Clear Boundaries: While peaceful parenting encourages empathy and understanding, it also involves setting clear and reasonable boundaries for behavior. Boundaries are explained to children in a calm and respectful manner and limits are set while developing self-discipline.
- Problem-Solving Together: Parents and children work together to find solutions to conflicts and challenges. This approach encourages children to develop problem-solving skills and take ownership of their behavior.
- Emotional Regulation: Peaceful parenting teaches children how to manage and express their emotions in healthy ways. Parents model emotional regulation and provide guidance on coping strategies.
- Modeling Positive Behavior: Parents who practice peaceful parenting strive to model the behavior they want to see in their children, demonstrating respectful communication and conflict resolution.
- Time-In Instead of Time-Out: Instead of using punitive measures like time-outs, peaceful parents use "time-ins" where children are encouraged to reflect on their actions and discuss what happened in a calm and supportive manner to improve self-awareness.
- Collaboration and Independence: Peaceful parenting emphasizes collaboration between parents and children, allowing children to have input and autonomy while guiding them toward responsible decisions.
It's important to note that while peaceful parenting has its merits, every child and family is unique. Some situations may require adaptations to the approach, and finding a balance between nurturing and providing appropriate guidance is key.
Is peaceful parenting the same as gentle parenting?
Peaceful parenting and gentle parenting discuss similarities in their emphasis on creating a nurturing and respectful environment for children's growth and development. Both approaches prioritize open communication, empathy, emotional safety, and positive reinforcement while avoiding harsh punishments and aggression. They focus on building strong parent-child relationships based on understanding and trust. However, while there is overlap, there can be subtle differences in emphasis and interpretation.
Peaceful parenting often emphasizes conflict resolution and problem-solving, encouraging children to actively participate in finding solutions to challenges. It underscores the importance of maintaining calm and respectful communication even during times of disagreement. Gentle parenting might emphasize the nurturing aspects of the relationship, placing a strong focus on emotional connections, bonding, and responsive caregiving. While the core principles align, the nuances of each approach might differ based on individual perspectives and interpretations. Both peaceful and gentle parenting aim to provide children with a safe, loving, and supportive environment to flourish emotionally, socially, and mentally.
How do I start peaceful parenting?
Starting to practice peaceful parenting involves embracing a mindset that prioritizes open communication, empathy, and respectful interactions with your children. Here are some steps to help you begin your journey into peaceful parenting:
- Practice Active Listening: Make an effort to actively listen to your children's thoughts and feelings without judgment to help discover their underlying needs. Create a safe space where they can express themselves openly.
- Replace Punishment with Problem-Solving: Instead of resorting to punitive measures, involve your children in finding solutions to challenges. Encourage them to brainstorm ideas and discuss the consequences of their actions which gives them the responsibility of owning the solution to their problem.
- Model Respectful Behavior: Children learn by observing. Model the respectful behavior and communication you want to see from them. Show them how to manage emotions and conflicts in a calm and constructive manner.
- Positive Reinforcement: Use praise and encouragement to reinforce positive behavior and accomplishments. Focus on building self-esteem by acknowledging their efforts and achievements.
- Set Clear Boundaries: While peaceful parenting encourages understanding, it's important to establish clear and age-appropriate boundaries. Communicate these boundaries with empathy and explain the reasons behind them.
- Empathy and Validation: Empathize with your children's emotions and validate their feelings. This helps them feel understood and supported.
- Use "I" Statements: When addressing conflicts or expressing concerns, use "I" statements to avoid blaming or accusing. This encourages a non-confrontational and open dialogue.
- Practice Patience: Peaceful parenting takes time and consistency. Be patient with yourself and your children as you both adjust to this new approach with an emphasis on peace.
What is the least effective parenting style?
The authoritarian parenting style is generally considered ineffective when compared with other styles. Authoritarian parenting is characterized by high demands, strict rules, and a lack of warmth or emotional support. While this style may appear to create discipline and control, it often comes with significant drawbacks that can hinder children's overall development and well-being.
Another parenting style that is ineffective is the uninvolved parenting method, where the parent simply takes care of basic needs, such as food, water, and shelter, while never attempting to set boundaries or rules for their child. This parenting style leaves child development up to the child's environment with little guidance at home. Children from this parenting style may not have a strong connection with their parents and may struggle in school and later in life as they have to learn coping skills on their own rather than having a parent teach them.
What is the least strict parenting style?
The least strict parenting style is generally considered to be the permissive parenting style. Permissive parenting involves a lenient approach, where parents are less likely to set strict rules, boundaries, or expectations for their children's behavior. While this style can foster emotional closeness and freedom of expression, it often lacks the structure and guidance necessary for children's healthy development.
Does peaceful parenting work?
Yes, peaceful parenting can be effective in fostering a healthy parent-child relationship and supporting children's emotional, social, and overall development. Peaceful parenting focuses on open communication, empathy, positive reinforcement, and nonviolent conflict resolution. This approach can have several positive outcomes:
- Strong Parent-Child Bond: Peaceful parenting promotes emotional closeness and mutual respect between parents and children, building a strong foundation for a healthy relationship.
- Emotional Regulation: Children raised with peaceful parenting learn to manage their emotions in a healthy way, leading to better emotional regulation and coping skills.
- Effective Communication: Peaceful parenting encourages open and honest communication, helping children learn how to express themselves and understand the perspectives of others.
- Problem-Solving Skills: Children learn to practice problem-solving and critical thinking when involved in discussions about conflicts or challenges, enhancing their ability to navigate real-life situations.
- Healthy Self-Esteem: The emphasis on positive reinforcement and acknowledgement of efforts can boost children's self-esteem and confidence.
- Respectful Behavior: Peaceful parenting models respectful behavior, teaching children how to interact with others in a respectful and considerate manner.
- Autonomy and Responsibility: Children develop a sense of autonomy and responsibility as they are given opportunities to make decisions and learn from the consequences.
- Conflict Resolution: Peaceful parenting teaches children how to resolve conflicts without resorting to aggression, helping them develop lifelong conflict resolution skills.
- Positive Peer Relationships: Children raised with peaceful parenting are more likely to develop healthy and positive relationships with peers, as they have learned effective communication and cooperation skills.
However, it's important to note that peaceful parenting doesn't mean avoiding discipline or setting boundaries. Finding a balance between nurturing and providing appropriate guidance is essential.
How do you raise a peaceful child?
Raising a peaceful child involves creating a nurturing environment that promotes emotional well-being, empathy, positive communication, and conflict resolution skills. Here are some strategies to help you raise a peaceful child:
- Model Peaceful Behavior
- Promote Empathy
- Open Communication
- Teach Emotional Regulation
- Problem-Solving Skills
- Positive Reinforcement
- Avoid Punitive Measures
- Set Clear Boundaries
- Encourage Independence
- Cultivate Mindfulness
- Encourage Acts of Kindness
- Practice Gratitude
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