Natural parenting is a broad term that can be used to describe a variety of methods of parenting styles that essentially go back to the basics of parenting. Some of the most common types of natural parenting are conscious parenting, attachment parenting, and gentle parenting.
With ever-evolving parenting methods and styles available in our modern society that encourage independence and discipline to avoid spoiling a child, it could be said that the natural ways of parenting as we first knew them are becoming lost.
Many parents are coming to the conclusion that modern parenting methods are not sensitive enough to meet the needs of children.
Natural parenting is a parenting style that aims to nurture and embrace our natural instincts as it works to go back to the basics of parenting to create a strong bond between parents and children. Natural parenting is an approach that strives to meet the emotional and physical needs of a child.
Natural parenting relies on this innate sensitivity to encourage parents to respond to their child whenever their child needs it. This approach does away with encouraging children to comfort themselves by self-soothing.
When you consider a child crying, there is an instinctive response from the parent that wants to meet their child’s needs. Studies show that meeting the needs of the child through close contact is necessary for maximizing their wellbeing.
Hence, the modern parenting approach of allowing a child to cry and comfort themselves in order to avoid spoiling them or encouraging dependence is an outdated parenting approach that should be replaced by the old-age approach of natural parenting.
Natural parenting is an increasingly popular parenting approach that can be integrated into all areas of life and can be recognized by parents undergoing natural childbirth, practicing healthy eating, or homeschooling for older children to enable children to take control of their learning and academic progress.
As natural parenting is all about letting a child develop in their own time, this parenting approach avoids setting developmental milestones as each child will develop in their own time.
In doing so, children may grow up without feeling pressure, lack self-confidence and self-loathing, and will instead flourish in an environment where they feel they can overcome obstacles.
Conscious parenting is a unique natural parenting approach that is rapidly growing in popularity. It’s an approach that essentially focuses on the well-being of both the parent and child.
Conscious parenting is based on the idea that parenting is a relationship and not a one-way street with parents owning their children.
It is centered on the parents’ state and how they can use mindfulness and practices of meditation and self-reflection to improve their natural parenting decisions which will significantly improve their child’s development and sense of self.
Many parents have expectations of how they wish their child to be and grow up. In doing so, parents fail to recognize that their child has a separate and unique identity from them that may not meet their expectations or set a checklist.
Hence, parents striving to ‘mold’ or ‘fix’ their child, will undoubtedly lead to negative effects of children experiencing emotions of inadequacy, a lack of confidence, and self-loathing.
The solution to this idealist view embodied by many parents is to adopt conscious parenting.
Conscious parenting is an approach that teaches parents to look inward at their own behaviors and practices in order to recognize that their child is independent of them and should be treated as such.
By a parent becoming more self-aware, parents can begin to release expectations they hold themselves to, which will enable them to release the checklist they have for their child as they will no longer force beliefs and expectations onto them.
On becoming self-aware, conscious parenting enables parents to make more positive decisions that are centered around their children’s best interests.
The result is improved wellbeing and development as children not only create a bond with their parents but also establish great skills as a result of being modeled compassion, self-confidence, and consciousness from their parents.
Elements Of Conscious Parenting
Conscious parenting is centered around the idea that parents and children are independent and that their bond is a relationship and not ownership. Hence, the unique natural parenting approach adopts a couple of significant ideas that establish its foundation.
One of the most significant ideas of conscious parenting is that to become a conscious parent, one must release their ego, expectations, desires, and attachments that one may have for both themselves and their child.
It requires parents to let go of limiting beliefs and to stop forcing an ideal on their children. Instead, they are encouraged to enable their child to develop at their own pace by looking internally at how they model behavior.
In doing so, parents may become less reactive and instead become active participants in their relationship by looking at the bigger picture, modeling positive traits, and practicing positive discipline.
Practicing conscious parenting will enable parents to reduce stress and anxiety levels as they focus on calming their mind and releasing tension. Daily meditation has been shown to have great effects when it comes to clearing the mind and body.
Hence, parents practicing daily meditation and mindfulness may be able to think clearly about their response to their child’s behavior.
Practicing conscious parenting is also effective in establishing a strong and healthy relationship between parent and child as it encourages individualism. The approach involves maintaining open communication in order to develop respect and empathy towards one another.
There are two significant challenges of implementing the conscious parenting approach into your natural parenting methods in daily life. The first is that practicing self-reflection and releasing expectations can be a long process as it requires work and time to process.
In order to practice conscious parenting, a parent is required to release themselves of baggage, limiting beliefs and habits in order for them to create an environment where their child can truly be themselves.
For many, this change and release is a trying process that could take a long-time to see results. The second most significant approach is that conscious parenting requires giving the child a large portion of control to let them be themselves and develop naturally.
Hence, one of the core parts of the approach is to let a child struggle and fail in order to teach them essential skills of resilience and perseverance. However, many parents may find watching their child struggle too difficult.
Some common methods of conscious parenting include:
- Implementing breathwork in order to slow the heart rate and reduce stress
- Reflect and meditate on situations
- Set clear and simple boundaries
Attachment parenting is a contemporary parenting approach that is based on a research-supported theory of natural parenting.
The idea behind the theory is that the connection between a parent and child and the way a parent responds to their child’s needs sets the foundations for the child’s development and emotional health and future relationships.
The aim of the approach is to develop skills of empathy and compassion and improve emotional health and build a confident relationship.
The attachment parenting approach is centered around using effective techniques that work to help parents focus on creating a physical and emotional bond with their children.
The approach strives to teach parents how to adequately respond to their child’s natural signals to ensure that their needs are met.
Attachment parenting differs from other forms of parenting such as those that advocate self-soothing. Instead, attachment parenting aims to meet the needs of a child by responding to natural cues.
For instance, from an attachment parenting point of view, a baby crying is perceived as the child’s way of communicating rather than a frustration.
Hence, attending to a crying child isn’t seen as spoiling the child, but is instead perceived as responding to the signal from the child to be soothed and comforted.
In responding to a child’s needs, the relationship begins to build trust as the parent and child begin to learn one another’s communication style.
Breastfeeding is considered to be one of the most effective techniques for attachment parenting as it is a time that provides comfort by soothing and nurturing a child.
Breastfeeding not only enables a physical bond to grow, science shows that it also provides a beneficial source of nutrition for aiding your child’s development and growth.
Attachment parenting methods such as breastfeeding are highly effective in providing nutritional, neuromotor, and developmental benefits for babies.
Studies have shown that parents that are responsive to their child’s needs and signals have been shown to reduce negative emotions of stress and anxiety in children later on in life.
Their limited exposure to negative emotions aids to develop cognitive abilities and advanced social skills.
Some potential limitations of methods of attachment parenting such as breastfeeding may cause mothers to compromise their sleep or health in order to constantly meet their child’s needs.
Hence, though attachment parenting promotes breastfeeding as one of the most significant ways of meeting a child’s needs, it states that these methods be done in a way that suits both you, your child, and your family dynamic and responsibilities.
Some common attachment parenting tools include;
- Birth bonding
Gentle parenting is another natural parenting approach that is characterized by parents taking the child’s lead. Gentle parenting involves parents encouraging their children to reach goals in their own time without pressure.
Though this may be a long way of achieving milestones, enabling the child to take the reins of their own progress is an effective way to ensure that they reach natural milestones of their own accord.
Gentle parenting is all about understanding your child’s needs and respecting the pace of their progress. It consists of nurturing their qualities by adopting an empathetic and compassionate approach to development.
Gentle parenting is considered a structured, evidence-based approach to natural parenting that encourages soft discipline that is centered around positive parenting and teaching important life skills.
This parenting approach is an effective way to raise confident and independent children.
The empathy and compassion shown through the gentle parenting approach differ from rigid parenting approaches as it encourages children to develop essential skills and behaviors and enables them to grow into confident adults.
Whereas approaches such as tiger parenting promote negative reinforcement and punishment that can be characterized as strict parenting.
The effects of such parenting styles may lead to negative outcomes on the mental health of children which may lead to the long-term negative impact of low self-esteem and poor performance.
It’s important to note that gentle parenting significantly differs from what is referred to as permissive parenting.
With a common misconception that the two are related, it can be said that permissive parenting is an approach that is characterized by parents having low expectations of their child’s abilities and potential.
As a result, parents that adopt a permissive approach frequently avoid implementing discipline which can have negative effects when it comes to rule-following and struggling in social situations.
Hence, whilst gentle parenting is considered to be a softer parenting approach, unlike permissive parenting, it promotes positive parenting approaches to discipline to instill values and offer clear support and guidance to create effective boundaries.
Gentle parenting is a natural parenting approach that is centered around developing a child’s cognitive potential.
In doing so, it is focused on employing methods that work to instill discipline and boundaries through positive parenting techniques such as parents modeling behavior that they want their child to pick up on.
In doing so, gentle parenting enables children to develop positive traits through demonstration.
Studies show that the effects of gentle parenting not only result in the development of positive traits, but it is also an effective approach in reducing negative cognitive effects such as reducing anxiety and stress.
Parents modeling a gentle and positive response to challenges work to model flexibility, resilience, and tolerance. Therefore, gentle parenting is a steadfast approach to instilling the positive and effective skills and values needed for positive development and esteemed growth.
Gentle parenting can be challenging as it requires patience and resilience. It is an approach that focuses on getting to know your child’s feelings and practicing the correct response to improve their development and wellbeing.
Being compassionate and empathetic all the time can be taxing. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, take some time and step back until you feel calm enough to respond positively rather than simply reacting to your child’s behavior.
Employing a gentle natural parenting approach is all about practicing empathy and compassion. It is an easy and effective method that can be efficiently implemented in daily life and can be used for children of all ages.
For instance, if you have a young baby crying, rather than practicing methods of self-soothing, practice comforting your child when they are upset rather than getting frustrated.
Be sure to recognize patterns in order to establish what it is that they are upset about so that you can tailor your response accordingly.
If you have a toddler, when the next throw a tantrum, rather than responding abruptly or becoming frustrated, try to recognize why it is that your child is behaving in a certain way. Children rarely throw tantrums for no reason.
So, be mindful of their behavior and assess what’s behind it. Approach them calmly and comfort them rather than employing punishment. In demonstrating gentle parenting, you will effectively teach your child empathy.
However, gentle parenting is all about balance, hence, if you come to the conclusion that you need to instill boundaries, be sure to implement positive discipline methods that aim to teach your child rather than punish them.
Natural parenting is an approach to parenting that centers around improving the wellbeing of your baby.
Though a broad term, common approaches such as conscious parenting, gentle parenting, and attachment parenting are becoming increasingly popular as approaches to positive parenting.
Each embraces empathy and compassion in response to a child’s natural signals in order to meet their needs and ultimately improve their wellbeing.
Natural parenting stands to be an approach to parenting that takes parenting back to basics and is focused on naturally soothing and comforting.
Studies show that approaches to natural parenting are beneficial both in the short term and long term as it teaches essential skills and behaviors that promote growth and development.
There is no one way of parenting, hence, if you’re looking to incorporate a more positive and effective approach to parenting that fits with your lifestyle, why not give one of these natural parenting approaches a try.
Or, mix and match methods and tools from different approaches to suit you and your family.
If you enjoyed this article, then you might like our article on unschooling.