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When my daughter became a toddler, I felt totally lost
I didn’t know what I was doing
I felt capable in other areas of my life - but family life was chaotic
I didn’t know how to say no without upsetting her.
So I would do anything to keep the peace.
Until I got frustrated and ended up shouting.
Then I discovered practical tools that made gentle parenting a reality for me.
Six months later I was super confident as a parent.
Parenting was still intense and challenging but the shouting was under control and there was so much more laughter.
So let me share what I learned along the way so you can make this happen too.
1. Putting my own needs first is not selfish The more support I build for myself, the more patient and fun I can be as a parent. You can’t give from an empty cup.
2. Children thrive on connection and connection creates cooperation
Keeping the focus on our relationship and moving from control-based parenting to connection-based parenting is the key to creating a lasting relationship and cooperation.
3. Setting limits is essential and it can be done without harshness Gentle parenting is not permissive parenting. In my mind limits meant punishments. I realised I could set limits with warmth and sometimes even playfully, bringing us closer and I was no longer permissive.
4. When everything goes wrong it’s ok to give up!
When I’m about to blow my top, I learned to lie on the floor and allow my nervous system time to calm down. Then we have a movie day and eat snacks for dinner - so much better than power struggles. If this is a daily occurrence - it’s time to call in more support - practical and emotional.
5. Play is a parenting super power and the quickest way to build cooperation. Can’t get your child to brush their teeth? Five minutes of play, laughter and connection can turn bedtime around. And it builds so much closeness, I started enjoying parenting again.
6. Prioritising one on one time with each child reduces conflict and arguments.
When my kids can rely on getting me all to themselves a few times per week, we are all happier and there is less fighting and more fun.
7. Parent guilt is a big waste of time and energy Yes, we all feel it. But it is possible to let go of the guilt and trust that you are a good enough parent. It is ok to get it wrong and find a way to repair - we are only human after all. Think about what you would say to a good friend who is struggling and extend that same compassion to yourself.
8. It’s ok to ask for help
We can go round in circles trying to figure things out for ourselves but the biggest changes came about in my parenting when I got a real human to help me learn to ride the waves instead of drowning in them.
If you would like a copy of my free guide Solving Parenting Challenges Through Play so you don’t have to overpower your child and enter into standoffs and power struggles, then all you need to do is leave a review or share this podcast with a friend or on your social media. Let me know and I will send you a copy of the guide.