Gently Parenting a 5 Year Old

We asked readers on our Facebook page to tell us what kind of articles they’d like to see on NPN. One reader responded and asked for suggestions about gentle parenting techniques with her five year old. One of the members of our “Ask the Natural Parenting Mentors” panel turned the question into a piece on gentle parenting. If you have ideas for articles you’d like to see on NPN, or if you would like to submit a question to our mentor panel to get perspectives from three different natural parenting mentors, please contact us.

Here is what our reader shared:

Sometimes I find myself parenting a little more harshly than I would like to, when it comes to my 5 year old who has just recently become a little more difficult and “button-pushy.” I realize a lot of it has to do with the newest addition to our family and the transition to kindergarten in recent months, but sometimes it’s hard to be understanding and compassionate and level headed when they are doing everything they can to push those buttons and doing things that you absolutely do not condone! Most of the moms I know are much more mainstream, especially my own mother, and she is constantly rolling her eyes and tuning me out, mocking the NL/AP things I talk about with her, and even getting defensive about her own approach to parenting, which I never attack on any level, and it can be so frustrating.

And this is Darcel’s response:

Congratulations on the new addition! We welcomed our third this past summer. I know how chaotic life can get at times with the new baby. My children are six years, three years, and six months.

Maybe the behavior is coming from a place of needing you more at this time. Five is still very young. At this age they don’t know how to verbalize “hey mom I need you, I want to be with you, I need to know that you still love me as much as you did before my sibling arrived.”

Our children need us to be strong. If something in their world isn’t right, they look to us to be their rock. Your five year old is probably doing things that you don’t condone because any attention is good attention right now. I’m not saying you don’t pay attention to your child. We may think we are giving them so much, but to them their cup isn’t full yet, so we need to keep giving.

How can you give more when you are already feeling like you’re at the end of your rope?

Start by breathing when you feel yourself getting upset. Take a couple of deep breaths. If it’s hard for you to remain compassionate and level headed, imagine how hard it is for your child. It is our responsibility to be that rock as best we can when they feel unsafe, or want to test their limits.

Try Naomi Aldort’s SALVE Formula.

Invite your child to do more with you. Cooking, cleaning, running errands. Get down on the floor and play with your child. Tell stories, play tic tac toe, ask her what she wants to do with you.

Sit back and enjoy watching your child sometimes. I love to watch the kids when they don’t know I’m looking. I remember how young and innocent they still are.

I’m sorry your mother isn’t supportive of the way you parent. I would stop talking with her about it. If she brings it up again you can give her some books or websites to read on Attachment Parenting. Don’t discuss it with her anymore until she’s read some of the information you’ve provided. Your mother may be getting defensive because she thinks by you choosing a different parenting path, you are saying that she was a bad mother.

Check out Yahoo Groups or Meetup to find Attachment Parenting groups in your area. Attend La Leche League meetings. This way you get to hang out and make friends with like minded mamas. Even people within your own circle will disagree with you at times, though. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says or thinks. If this lifestyle is working for you, then continue on this journey with your family and make wonderful memories.

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Darcel is an Attachment Parenting, Unschooling, Homebirthing mother to three children. She is very active in her local Attachment Parenting community. Darcel blogs about family life, pregnancy, birth, unschooling, mindful parenting, gentle discipline, and motherhood at The Mahogany Way. She is also on the Natural Parents Network “Ask the NP Mentor” panel.

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