Gentle parenting: 10 practical ways to tackle parent-child conflicts to build a healthier relationship

From active participation to having clear rules and boundaries, discover proven strategies and techniques for establishing understanding and peace in parent-child relationships.

“There is no way to be a perfect parent and a million ways to be good.”

The Parent-Child Relationship is a unique and most fulfilling bond on earth. It nurtures the child’s physical, emotional, and social development. But wait, not everyone will agree with this statement, right? 

There may be some parents or children who have the most toxic relationship. They feel suffocated, irritated, or maybe insulted in the company of each other. How many of your friends had healthy and joyful connections in their teenage?

No wonder this relationship is like a foundation brick that builds a child’s personality, life choices, and overall behavior. Their social, physical, mental, and emotional health largely depends on how they are treated by their elders. 

There is no “one-size-fits-all” formula for parenting. The techniques keep changing and adapting as our children grow. It also depends on environmental factors, parents’ mental well-being, and maturity.  

In their growing years, children look up to their parents to discover whether or not they are safe, protected, and loved. Especially when conflicts arise. There will be disagreements on various occasions as a teenager’s parent. You will find resistance from them while teaching right and wrong, ethical and unethical, and following the rituals and traditions of the family. 

Misunderstandings and disagreements can create emotional havoc on both parents and children. Understanding the roots of these conflicts and applying effective strategies can help navigate rough times, ensuring a healthier parent-child relationship.

How gentle parenting style is different from traditional parenting?

Gentle parenting aims at raising confident, independent, and happy children through empathy, respect, meaningful interactions, and understanding. 

It also focuses on setting healthy boundaries and age-appropriate development.

Whereas the traditional style primarily promotes reward and punishment. Reward the child if he does something good. Give them gifts, treats, outings, and shower praises. Scold them for not correctly doing things. Or if they are slow in grasping and delivering, not improving, spank them.

“The idea is to be more like a coach for your kid rather than a punisher. Gentle parenting is all about taking a pause as a parent. Yelling or screaming have no place here. You should rather try to help kids understand what is happening,” notes Dr. Keren Estrella, MD, Cleveland clinic. 

Tips and strategies to strengthen parent-child conflicts

Here are a few points that must be followed for healthier family bonding:

  1. Understand developmental stages : Every age offers unique challenges to overcome positively. A stubborn toddler, a free-will school-age child, or a rebellious teenager fighting for independence can trigger any conflict at any given time. Being aware and educated enough to understand the various age groups’ behavioural patterns can benefit parents. That decides the effective strategies to deal with the child.
    Tip: Read, watch, and gather knowledge on developmental milestones. Consulting the coaches and experts to understand age-specific behaviours also helps.
  2. Active listening and showing empathy over warm interactions: Sometimes, conflicts arise from misunderstandings. Couples don’t devote sufficient time to listen attentively to their children. Not that they do it deliberately. They may be preoccupied with their work and other responsibilities. They may not find it necessary to hear out their concerns. Children are very perceptive. It is easier for them to identify when their parents are not listening. This gives rise to feelings of neglect, and your child may refuse to listen to you. Take the time to listen to your child’s concerns, feelings, and perspectives without interrupting.
    Tip: How about doing reflective listening by paraphrasing what your child says. This shows them that you truly understand. Be mindful of your child’s feelings.
  3. Let them win some arguments : Not every disagreement requires a showdown. Sometimes, it is best to let minor issues slide to maintain peace.
    Tip: If it is not a significant issue, consider letting it go. Be adaptive, and do not let your ego get in the way. Let them feel on equal footing.
  4. Stay calm and consistent: Children can be incredibly perceptive. Any kind of anger or inconsistency can exacerbate the conflict.
    Tip: Patience is the key. Impulsive reactions spoil the show. Change the topic if your emotions rise. Establish consistent rules and stick to them.
  5. In place of “you,” use “I” statements: Instead of saying, “You always forget to carry your assignment to school,” try, “I wonder if I reminded you about your assignment yesterday. Hope you are taking it along with you.”
    Tip: Framing the concern as your own feeling reduces blame and opens the door for constructive conversation. Blame games and finger-pointing should be avoided at all costs.
  6. Offer choices : Children, especially younger ones, feel empowered when they can make decisions independently. Offering choices within boundaries can reduce conflicts.
    Tip: Instead of insisting, give choices and allow your child to make decisions. This will help them develop decision-making skills in the long run and enable them to adapt.
  7. Set clear boundaries, rules, and consequences: Children feel more secure when they know their limits. Establish clear, consistent boundaries, and be sure to communicate them effectively.
    Tip: Use visual aids, like charts or lists, for younger children to help them remember the rules. Communicate rules clearly in a manner that is understood by your child. Rules and boundaries should also be age-appropriate. However, constantly reminding children of limitations and regulations makes them irritable and rebellious. Edges should be decided by both parents and children.
  8. Be available and distraction-free: Imagine yourself binge-watching Netflix and your child coming to you with a query. Chances are that you will tell him/her to wait until the next ad break. Living in the intelligent world, owning smart gadgets and multi-tasking, and checking notifications every other second, where’s the time to give 10 minutes to your children totally distraction-free? Turn off the TV, put away your electronic devices, and spend quality time together. Make your children your priority in your life. Many distractions and stressors would stop you from doing this but don’t let them come your way.
  9. Create parent-child rituals: Have you set any weekly or monthly rituals to follow with your kids? Is there something exciting happening regularly that they eagerly wait for? It can be as simple as going to their favourite place for dinner? Or swimming sessions on weekends, a drive to a sunset point. Or watching any latest movie at home. A forest trail or a beach walk. Or as simple as reading the story from their choice of book. You can plan these rituals with all your kids or one at a time to give them a chance to have a personal bond with you as a parent. Quality time with your child can strengthen the parent-child bond. Build your child’s self-esteem that they are unique and valued. Celebrate their existence in your life.
  10. Seek professional help if needed: If conflicts have become frequent or intense or create conflicts in the family, it’s time to take serious steps to immediately stop these unpleasant dialogues. Consult a professional.
    Tip: Your paediatrician can offer guidance, recommend resources, or refer you to a child psychologist or family therapist.”Navigating parent-child conflicts requires patience, understanding, and effective communication.
    Remember, it’s natural for disagreements to occur. Parents can ensure a loving and harmonious relationship with their children by approaching them empathetically and applying these strategies. You may lean on your paediatrician for advice and support; we are here to help guide you through the challenges and joys of parenting,” concludes Dr. Paula Goel, Paediatrician and Adolescent Specialist at Fayth Clinic. 

    There are always trials and errors in parenting. Just keep experimenting and discover your unique style because you are unique, and so does your child! 

Love from Soul



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