Peaceful parenting encourages parents to build strong, trusting relationships with their children by offering respect, empathy, and healthy communication. Both punishments and rewards for behaviors are often avoided in an effort to instill responsibility and independence. The premise behind parenting peacefully is to create a secure and nurturing environment where children can learn, grow, and develop.
This article goes in-depth, but I’ve summarized some of my thoughts on peaceful parenting here:
What Is Peaceful Parenting?
Peaceful parenting emphasizes emotional connection, understanding, and cooperation between parents and children, rather than punishment and control. This parenting style involves teaching children how to make good decisions and be responsible for their own behavior, as parents feel their children should become independent and learn from their mistakes. In some ways, it is quite similar to authoritative parenting.
The concept of peaceful parenting was first created by child psychologist Dr. Haim Ginott in the 1950s. Dr. Thomas Gordon further developed the concept, but the term “peaceful parenting” wasn’t coined until 2012 by Dr. Laura Markham in her book, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids.1
When peaceful parenting, parents strive to create a strong bond with their children by fostering trust and mutual respect. Instead of focusing on discipline, parents can devote more attention to listening and understanding their children’s needs. This can lead to better communication and a deeper understanding of each other. Ideally, parents can help their children grow in their identity, become successful, and develop into happy adults.
The three main elements of peaceful parenting include:
Parental Emotional Regulation
As parents, it can be difficult to remain collected and grounded when faced with our child’s challenging behavior. Emotional regulation is defined as the ability to recognize and manage one’s emotions. In terms of parenting, it involves understanding one’s own feelings and then taking appropriate action to regulate them in order to stay calm.
At the very heart of peaceful parenting is mindfulness, a practice that focuses on remaining present in the moment and dealing with stressors as they arise. Utilizing this helps calm the mind and body, allowing a parent to better regulate their emotions.
By modeling mindfulness and self-control, children learn how to regulate their own emotions and develop positive coping strategies throughout their lives. Mindful communication between parents and children can reduce a child’s stress and anxiety, and improve parenting satisfaction.2
Research suggests that a loving parental relationship is one of the strongest predictors to a child’s future success3. A recent study found that youth from high-stress families who had strong relationships with parents were seven to 33 times more likely to report positive developmental outcomes than those coming from families with weaker parental bonds.4
Peaceful parenting provides children with the love and security they need to thrive. This includes practicing attachment parenting, which can enhance your ability to become more responsive to your child’s needs.5 When children feel secure and safe, they are more likely to explore and take risks, which is important for their development.
As children grow, it is important for parents to continue to form close bonds with them. This is essential for healthy communication and sets the stage for an ongoing successful relationship. A strong parental relationship also helps build a child’s self-esteem and self-worth.
Parents play an essential role in their children’s lives, from providing guidance and support to helping them develop social skills and build self-confidence. Recently, parenting experts have begun to recognize the importance of parenting beyond a caregiver-child bond. They encourage parents to view their relationship with their children as a collaboration.6
By working together and discussing decisions and goals, parents can create an environment of mutual respect and understanding. Collaboration can help children and parents understand each other’s expectations and feel more connected. This further builds trust, which may mean children are more likely to respond positively to parental rules and boundaries.
Additionally, collaboration can help children to feel more comfortable expressing their feelings and opinions. For example, it’s easier to talk about academic performance and mental wellbeing with a parent who is open and understanding. When children are involved in decision-making and goal-setting, a perk is they learn how to think critically, and communicate effectively.
Benefits of Peaceful Parenting
Peaceful parenting is an effective and helpful parenting style that can benefit both parents and children in the short and long-term. Building a strong relationship, fostering problem-solving skills, and teaching children respect can create a calmer and more harmonious home environment–all while helping children develop a greater sense of self-worth.
Possible benefits of peaceful parenting include:
- Increased happiness: Children are often happier and better adjusted when their parents choose a peaceful parenting style.
- Less familial dysfunction: The way you parent can affect your child’s mental health. Peaceful parenting focuses on communication, connection, and collaboration thereby decreasing dysfunction in the relationship.
- Healthier attachment styles: Studies show that people who are securely attached have the healthiest relationships. Peaceful parenting can foster healthier attachment styles in children.
- A more harmonious home environment: When kids grow up in a calm, harmonious home, they are likely to feel more comfortable there. This can influence stress levels and anxiety for kids and parents alike.
- Promotes better communication: Better communication allows for a deeper understanding of one another. When teaching children how to express themselves and make their own decisions, they can develop a greater sense of self-esteem and confidence.
- Teaches children to be respectful:
Peaceful parenting can help children learn to express their needs and wants in a positive way. Meanwhile, it teaches them to be respectful of other people’s feelings and opinions.
Drawbacks of Peaceful Parenting
Like any parenting technique, there may be potential drawbacks to peaceful parenting down the line. The decision to adopt a specific parenting style is personal and should be based on a family’s values, beliefs, and lifestyle.
Certain family dynamics can make choosing a peaceful parenting style difficult or challenging, especially when there is disagreement about how to parent. When the peaceful parenting approach does not match the ideas of the other parent or caregiver, it can lead to disagreements and confusion.
Possible drawbacks of peaceful parenting include:
- Lack of structure: Without punishments or rewards, it can be difficult to establish clear expectations and limits. This can lead to inconsistent discipline and children not knowing what behaviors are acceptable or unacceptable.
- Increased sense of entitlement: When children don’t expect there to be consequences for their negative behavior, they can begin to feel entitled. They may expect to be given what they want without having to follow the rules or abide by limits.
- It can be time consuming: Peaceful parenting involves a lot of patience and understanding. It takes time to listen to a child’s needs and respond with empathy, respect, and compassion.
- Lack of immediate consequences: With peaceful parenting, there is often no immediate consequence for a child’s negative behavior. This can lead to children feeling like they can engage in negative behavior without any repercussions.
- Some may feel it’s too “permissive:” Peaceful parenting can resemble permissive parenting, as parents appear to be very responsive to their child’s emotional needs, but are inconsistent in enforcing boundaries.
- Can lead to resistance: Peaceful parenting can lead to children becoming resistant to discipline. Without punishment or consequences, children may not take their parents seriously when they are trying to set limits or establish rules.
Is Peaceful Parenting Effective?
Studies have found that children who are raised with peaceful parenting techniques are more likely to have higher self-esteem, better emotional regulation, and better problem-solving skills as they age. Additionally, peaceful parenting can help reduce the amount of conflict in the home, as it encourages parents to talk through disagreements and work together to come to a resolution. Peaceful parenting can be a very effective way to raise children who are confident, self-sufficient, and responsible.
Examples of Peaceful Parenting
The way you parent differs depending on a child’s phase of development. There are specific ways to parent peacefully that allow your children to learn and grow at any age.
Examples of peaceful parenting may include:
- Acknowledge their feelings: When toddlers are having a temper tantrum, parents should try to understand the underlying cause. Is it because the toddler is hungry, tired, or feeling overwhelmed? If so, parents can offer comfort and reassurance, rather than punish or scold their child.
- Teach new skills: When toddlers make mistakes, parents can offer gentle reminders or provide positive reinforcement.
- Provide firm expectations: Toddlers should understand there are consequences for inappropriate behavior. For example, this may include not being able to play with their friends if they are having a temper tantrum and can’t calm down.
- React with compassion: In times of stress, remember that toddlers do not have the same capacity for understanding as older children.
Children/School Aged Kids:
- Take a step back: Take a short “time out” when you are stressed out. Kids can pick up on your stress and it can have a negative impact on them. You can even come up with a signal for your children that you need a short break.
- Let them problem-solve: Don’t rush to solve your child’s problems for them. Instead, let them creatively problem-solve. Teach them to identify the problem, come up with some potential solutions, choose one solution, and try it out to see what happens.
- Offer choices: Giving children choices can help them to become more responsible and independent. When appropriate, you could offer choices for different types of activities or clothing to wear. By doing so, your child may feel like they are in control and can make their own decisions.
- Set clear boundaries:
Children need clear boundaries to feel safe and secure. When setting boundaries, explain why the boundary is important and consequences for not following it.
- Pay attention to their emotions: Teens have many strong emotional ups and downs as there are big changes during adolescence. If your teen’s behaviors or emotions start to change in negative ways, talk with your child and reach out for professional help.
- Listen to and relate with them: Be open and honest with your teen, and listen to what they are saying. As you better understand their needs and concerns, it allows you to be more patient and to compromise when needed.
- Provide unconditional love: Let your teen know you are there for them. Essentially, you offer unconditional love, even if you don’t agree with their decisions.
- Model appropriate behavior: As a parent, it is important to practice what you preach as your teen will learn from your example. Use respectful language, manage your emotions, and set an example of empathy and understanding.
8 Tips for Practicing Peaceful Parenting
As a parent, you may be wondering how you can use peaceful parenting techniques to help your child develop into a respectful and responsible adult. The key is to teach your child positive behavior without resorting to negative reinforcement. This means reinforcing positive behaviors with praise, rather than using punishment or threats.
Additionally, it is important to allow your child to make mistakes and learn from them. This means providing guidance and consequences that help children avoid making the same poor choices. For example, rather than yelling at a child for spilling their drink, you can calmly explain why they should not spill their drink and help them clean it up.
Here are eight tips for practicing peaceful parenting:
1. Stay Calm
If you want to adopt peaceful parenting techniques, you will want to create a calm and supportive environment. Staying regulated is essential for parents, especially in times of high stress. This means creating boundaries that are consistent and encouraging your child to express their feelings or opinion without fear of punishment.
It is also important to encourage open communication between you and your child, listen to their thoughts and feelings, and allow them to express their opinion. It’s possible to maintain your cool when you are frustrated with your child’s actions.
2. Start With Yourself
Be sure to focus on your own needs while juggling those of their children, too. Taking the time to engage in self-care to de-stress and rewind helps you be at your best for your children.
3. Know How to Handle Dangerous Situations
It can be tempting to react with anger and fear in a dangerous situation, but this can make the situation worse. Instead, remain calm and assess the situation. Is this a situation that your child can handle on their own, or do they require your assistance?
If your child is able to handle it on their own, provide guidance and support, but avoid taking control of the situation. If the circumstance is more serious, or if your child is in danger, it is important to intervene.
4. Work Together
The best way to work together with your child is to find ways to collaborate. This means developing a relationship of mutual respect and trust, and understanding the importance of compromise. Be sure to maintain a sense of control and authority, while also listening to your child’s point of view and wants. This shows them that you are open to hearing what they have to say and that you are willing to work together to find solutions.
5. Plan for Negative Behaviors
Negative behaviors happen with children. Tantrums are a part of normal child development, especially with toddlers. During the teenage years, expect teenage angst as children move beyond innocent childhood and start to test limits and boundaries.
Communicate with your child in a respectful manner. Rather than resorting to yelling or punishment, try to talk with your child in a calm and understanding way. This will help them to feel heard and taken seriously.
When it comes to discipline, consider that it is not about punishing your child for making mistakes, but rather about teaching them how to make better choices. This can be done by encouraging your child to take responsibility for their actions and helping them to understand the consequences of their choices. Also, be consistent with your expectations and rules, and provide clear and fair consequences when they are not met.
6. Model Healthy Behaviors
Parents play an important role in the development of their children, both in providing guidance and setting an example of positive behaviors. As a parent, it is important to model positive behaviors in order for your children to develop healthy habits themselves. This may look like getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and managing stress.
7. Make Listening a Priority
Make listening a priority as you model healthy behaviors, as listening is a skill that must be taught. Parents can demonstrate the importance of this to their children by actively listening to them when they are speaking, being sure to refrain from interrupting or dismissing their feelings. This will help your child develop healthy communication skills and show them that their opinions matter.
Show your child that you are listening by making eye contact, responding to their ideas and questions, and asking follow-up questions. This will help to strengthen your relationship with your child and show the importance of listening.
8. Practice Patience
Show your child that it is important to be patient. There will be times when your child will be frustrated, upset, or angry. In these moments, practice mindfulness to remain calm and not let anger take over. Let your child know that it is okay to feel overwhelmed, but that it is important to find a way to not let their emotions take over.
Is Peaceful Parenting Right for My Family?
While peaceful parenting may not be a good fit for everyone, parents can try to incorporate elements of it into their approach if they find it useful. Peaceful parenting has become more popular in recent years, as more people seek out ways to raise their children with kindness and respect.
To decide if peaceful parenting is the best fit for your family, consider your parenting goals. It takes time to develop a connection with your child. Therefore, with peaceful parenting, parents must be willing to reflect on their own behavior and work to stay in control of their emotions. First, make sure your child is ready for this kind of approach. With some patience, understanding, and communication, peaceful parenting can be a great way to foster a positive relationship with your child.
It is important to remember that you might occasionally fall short of your own parenting expectations. But if you believe in this parenting style, you can still continue to look forward to using this method–nobody is perfect 100% of the time.
When to Seek Support
Therapy can provide parents a safe and non-judgmental space to talk about their challenges and figure out strategies to help make the parenting journey easier. If parents are on the edge about their parenting techniques, they can find the right therapist to help them through these issues. There are also many online therapy options available for families who lead busier lifestyles.
Therapy options for parents may include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT focuses on identifying and changing negative thinking patterns and behaviors. Parents can learn how to better manage their emotions, communicate effectively with their children, and develop problem-solving skills.
- Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT): MBCT helps parents become more aware of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This type of therapy can provide parents with the skills they need to better manage their emotions and stay present in the moment.
- Narrative therapy: Narrative therapy encourages parents to create positive stories about themselves and their family. This helps parents identify their strengths and celebrate their successes as a family.
- Family therapy: Family therapy focuses on strengthening the relationships within the family. This can be beneficial for parents who are struggling to communicate with their children. Parents can learn how to develop better communication skills, create healthier boundaries within the family, and resolve conflicts more effectively.
Peaceful parenting is an effective way to raise children, as it aims to create a strong bond between parents and children by fostering a sense of trust and mutual respect. Ultimately, peaceful parenting is a great way to nurture children into healthy and happy adults. Keep in mind that parenting is not the same for everyone, so families should find tactics that are most suitable for them.