What type of parent do you want to be?

There comes a time when you have to consider what kind of parent you want to be. I read this funny post by my wonderful friend Lucy at Occupation:(M)other about all the different parenting styles and techniques that she’s employed in her three years as a mother and it got me reflecting on what kind of parents we are and what we will be in the future. There are so many labels and groups, countless experts and theories, and I think these labels are unhelpful and unnecessary in many ways. But when it comes to ‘discipline’ and the like, you do have to make decisions about how you’ll handle unwanted behaviour and what approach you’ll take. I don’t think I know many people who follow a really prescriptive approach whether that be Gina Ford, Jo Frost, gentle parenting or any other sort – most of us pick and choose the things that suit us and appeal to our instincts. Not forgetting, of course, that it all depends on the child. You might have wanted to put your kid on the naughty step and then realise that it hasn’t made one single bit of difference to their behaviour… so could be time to rethink!

The reason I am writing about this now is because we are at a ‘challenging’ stage of parenting. Our child is starting to understand a lot more, pushing boundaries and exploring constantly. The challenge is how on earth do you set limits while trying to keep a straight face?! Honestly, he is completely hilarious most of the time but even more so when he looks at you with a cheeky grin, shaking his head to match your own actions and then carrying on with whatever he was doing (trying to climb onto the windowsill, trying to slap Grandma’s telly, trying to put his hands in the bin… the list is endless!). It doesn’t help when you have other family members cracking up with laughter and trying (unsuccessfully) to hide behind their hands.

almost bald, blond 1 year old wearing a blue hooded top with white stripes on the sleeve with his hands in a tin of Cadburys Roses, there are chocolates all over the floor and toys behind him. He's on a beige carpet.
I’m still not sure how he got the tin open… at least he couldn’t get into the wrappers!

As parents you have to decide how you’re going to approach these things – are you full on with the strict discipline, right from this tiny age or do you want to try a gentler approach… or do you just muddle along and try it all on before deciding what fits? Now that TM is starting to push boundaries more and more, we’ve actually got to put into practice some of the things we’ve talked about and make definitive choices about how we handle various situations.

I am an avid reader and that includes articles and blogs about parenting – as well as a few carefully selected books. Both B and I have seen friends and family go through these toddler years with a variety of approaches and have decided what we like the look of and what we don’t feel so comfortable with. I think it’s actually a really delicate balance with a 1 year old – they are so, so small still but they are learning all the time and you do have to develop boundaries – at the very least to stop them hurting themselves! I don’t personally believe that time outs and naughty steps have any use on a 1 year old and at the moment it’s not something we want to try, anyway.

There’s always going to be a certain amount of trial and error, I guess. Each child is different so a blanket rule might not work out. We seem to be somewhere in the gentle/playful parenting camp – setting limits but without the reward/punishment tactics and trying to make sure we spend plenty of time just playing with our gorgeous boy and paying him attention for all the right reasons. Will this always be our approach? Who knows? Will it always work? Probably not! But it’s reassuring to have a plan in the first place, isn’t it?

How about you? Do you have a parenting style?

Diary of an imperfect mum

24 thoughts on “What type of parent do you want to be?

  1. I think your gentle approach is exactly right at the stage, he’s just exploring and testing the boundaries and he’ll soon learn what’s amusing, and what is a resolute no because it’s potentially unsafe or just not that kind! We’re having a bit of a mare with Mouse at the moment because unless we really bollock her, she shrugs off any attempt at discipline. I don’t want to be the parent who bollocks her all the time! Really hard but it sounds as if you’ve got the balance right xx

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  2. I think we’re probably quite similar in our approach to parenting, from what i know of you…we certainly took the gentler approach when E was younger and it made it all very relaxing. I always think of etymology…the fact that the word discipline stems from instruction/teach/knowledge.
    As E got older our approach has needed to change for different things…we have used one reward chart for a specific things which worked really well and are starting to use a range of ‘punishments’ that are age appropriate to him. Along with the explaining, empathy etc etc etc!!! It’s so interesting when you stop and think about it…
    ANNNNNDDDD THANK YOU for the shout out lovely one, really appreciate it!!

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    1. It is really interesting and there’s so many different approaches! Definitely sounds like we’ve taken similar roads, I do think the gentle thing is lovely in principle but not sure how well it will work on a wilful 4 year old?! Remains to be seen, eh? Thanks for reading – and you’re welcome for the shoutout! Ellen Xxx


  3. I’m struggling with this too at the moment – I think we’re probably too permissive with the Popple and she gets her own way more than she should. But it’s so hard to discipline her because I don’t know how much she can understand at this age, plus I late listening to screaming! Also, she’s super cute, so of course I want to give her another biscuit. 🙂 I’m sure we’ll find our balance soon enough.

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  4. Oh you are at such a tricky stage – and I completely understand the trying not to laugh – my son had a similar effect on me! I think you are doing everything right – you address issues, you try to better yourself, you try to do the best by your son. That’s all you can do. To ignore and to stress is not helpful. It’s a constant when they are young but all the hard work and care really pays off in the end. I guess consistancy helps so that your child always knows what’s acceptable. Oh I’m no expert but the sheer fact that you write about this says to me that you’re a fab parent! xx

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    1. Ahh Helen thank you for such a kind comment! Yes it makes sense that consistency helps, and I agree that stressing over things after the fact is useless. I think we are always learning as parents (and in life in general!) so you just have to embrace that and do your best… we’ll get there! Thanks for reading lovely, Ellen x

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    1. Ahh thanks love! Yes I think I’m the same, you do have to be firm when you’re saying no etc. I think people often misconceive that if you say you are a gentle parent they think you’re permissive – but you’re not! Thanks for reading and having me love, Ellen x


  5. All parenting is trial and error lol. What works for one child, might not work for another.
    There’s a saying ‘A child needs your love most when they deserve it least’. Strict punishments/parenting are counterproductive. I think one of the most important things to be consistent so your child is not confused over what is acceptable behaviour and what is not.
    Good luck

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  6. I think gentle is the way forward mixed with a bit of firm for good measure. It’s definitely trial and error though. He started saying no at us all the time recently and we only worked out why and it’s cos we say no all the time to him . We’re having to change our language now to don’t and please stop etc so the no word will hopefully blend away a bit!! Thanks for linking up to #familyfun

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    1. Yep gentle but firm seems to be a winner! Definitely trial and error, and I am sure we will be faced with new challenges at each new stage. Oooh I hadn’t thought of that with saying ‘no’, I’ll start thinking of alternative words haha! Thanks for reading and having me lovely, Ellen x


  7. Ah I really think it is a fine line and I have certainly noticed the difference between my 2.5 year old and my 1.5 year old, in terms of discipline. I agree at 1 I am not sure what difference naughty steps and time outs make but equally at. 2.5 Zara just laughs in my face unless her dad tells her off then she listens. I think, ultimately, it comes down to your child and knowing what suits them. For me it is very much trial and error, as long as they turn out polite happy and respectful, with plenty of love from mum and dad then I am happy. Thanks for joining us at #familyfun xx

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    1. Definitely – it’s the end result that is important at the end of the day! Yes I think it changes with age and obviously each kid is different so a blanket approach might not work. Ahhh parenting isn’t easy is it?! Thanks for reading and having me my lovely, Ellen x


  8. Great Post, i still don’t know what sort of parent i want to be, all i know is that out of me and my fiance , i am the one who sets the rules etc in regards to bedtime and sleep training, i can understand that doing certain things are for babys long term benefits, but other half only thinks of the now. which i understand too, we just need to meet in the middle – wherever that is.

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