Cons of Gentle Parenting: Understanding the Drawbacks

Krystal DeVille

Kids outside one of them upset.

Imagine a scenario where parents adopt the gentle parenting approach, which focuses on understanding children’s feelings. While gentle parenting encourages parents to be deeply attuned to their children’s emotional needs, it’s not without potential drawbacks. Explore the cons of gentle parenting in this guide, a method emphasizing understanding children’s feelings.

Understanding Gentle Parenting

Gentle parenting is a parenting style that focuses on empathy, respect, understanding, and calm. It is about understanding a child’s behavior through empathy and respect. This approach gives choices versus commands and responds in a way that considers a child’s intellectual and developmental levels.

Core Principles

At its core, gentle parenting is about recognizing a child as an individual and responding to their needs. It emphasizes the importance of building a strong parent-child relationship based on trust, open communication, and mutual respect.


One of the key principles of gentle parenting is empathy. This means putting yourself in your child’s shoes and trying to understand their perspective. It involves empathetic approaches such as:

  • Listening to your child
  • Validating their feelings
  • Responding with compassion


Respect is another important aspect of gentle parenting. It involves treating your child as a person with their own thoughts, feelings, and needs. To achieve respect between a parent and a child, you can implement these behaviors:

  • Avoiding punitive measures like spanking or yelling
  • Using positive reinforcement
  • Applying natural consequences


Understanding is also a crucial component of gentle parenting. It means recognizing that children are still learning and growing. Their behavior is often a reflection of their developmental stage.

This involves setting age-appropriate expectations and responding to your child’s needs accordingly.

staying calm

Finally, gentle parenting emphasizes the importance of staying calm and avoiding power struggles. Parents can take a step back and assess the situation before responding. Moreover, they can use techniques such as:

  • Deep breathing
  • Counting to ten to stay centered

While gentle parenting has many benefits, it is not without its challenges. Some critics argue that it can lead to permissive parenting. They also believe that children may not learn important skills like self-discipline and responsibility.

However, advocates of gentle parenting consider that it can help children develop a strong sense of self-worth. Overall, they feel that this approach can lead to more positive outcomes in the long run.

Challenges in Gentle Parenting

mother talking on the phone and disciplining son.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

setting boundaries

One of the biggest challenges in gentle parenting is setting boundaries. While it is important to respect the child’s feelings and needs, setting limits and rules for their behavior is crucial.

Children may feel confused and insecure without clear and age-appropriate boundaries, which can lead to behavioral issues.


Another challenge in gentle parenting is discipline. Gentle parenting advocates for positive reinforcement and natural consequences rather than punishment. In some cases, these can be difficult for some parents to implement.

It requires a lot of patience and consistency to guide the child towards good behavior without resorting to punishment.


Patience is another key aspect of gentle parenting. It can be frustrating to communicate with a child who is not yet able to understand their emotions fully.

Parents need to be patient and understanding when dealing with their child’s tantrums, meltdowns, and other challenging behaviors.

Managing stress

Stress is also a common challenge in gentle parenting. It can be stressful to constantly monitor and regulate one’s emotions and reactions. This is especially true when dealing with a difficult child.

In consequence, parents may face societal or familial pressure due to criticism of their parenting style.

Influence of Social Media

Social media, particularly TikTok, has also presented new challenges for gentle parenting. Some influencers promote unrealistic and idealized versions of gentle parenting. As a result, it can lead to unrealistic expectations for parents who are struggling to implement this approach.

Handling Conflicts and Frustration

Finally, conflicts and frustration can arise when practicing gentle parenting. It can be difficult to navigate conflicts with children without resorting to yelling or other negative behaviors.

In that case, parents may feel frustrated when their child’s behavior does not improve despite their efforts.

Parenting Advice: To handle and overcome these challenges, recognize the importance of self-compassion. Understand that perfection is not the goal, but being a present and loving parent is what counts.

Comparison With Other Parenting Styles

father and child bonding while playing wooden airplane.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Each parenting style has its own set of pros and cons. Here we will compare gentle parenting philosophy with some of the other popular parenting styles.

Permissive Parenting

Permissive parents are highly responsive to their children’s needs but have few expectations or rules. This approach is often criticized for producing children who lack self-discipline and have difficulty following rules.

Unlike permissive parenting, gentle parenting emphasizes setting boundaries and limits while also being responsive to the child’s needs.

Authoritarian Parenting

Moreover, authoritarian parenting is a style where parents expect obedience without question. This parenting style is often criticized for excessive strictness and producing children who lack creativity and independence.

Gentle parenting work with a focus on mutual respect and collaboration between parents and children.

Attachment Parenting

Attachment parenting is a style where parents focus on creating a strong emotional bond with their child through practices such as co-sleeping and babywearing.

On the other hand, gentle parenting also emphasizes the importance of emotional connection. However, it does not necessarily require specific practices like co-sleeping.

Positive Parenting

Positive parenting is a style where parents focus on reinforcing positive behavior rather than punishing negative behavior.

While gentle parenting also emphasizes positive reinforcement, it also recognizes that setting limits and boundaries is important for children’s development.

Tiger Parenting

Tiger parenting is a style where parents push their children to excel academically and in other areas. This parenting style is often criticized for being too strict and causing children to experience high levels of stress and anxiety.

Meanwhile, if you compare it with gentle parenting, it emphasizes a more relaxed and collaborative approach to parenting.

Authoritative Parenting

Lastly, authoritative parenting is a style where parents set clear expectations and rules but also provide warmth and support. This parenting approach is often seen as the most effective and balanced approach.

In this case, gentle parents shares many similarities with authoritative parents but emphasizes mutual respect and collaboration between parents and children.

Impact on Child’s Development and Emotions

father talking to his son on a grass.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Understanding the impact of parenting styles on a child’s development and own emotions is crucial. Let’s examine the way parents can deeply influence a child’s emotional health and ability to handle life’s ups and downs.

1. Lack of Healthy Boundaries

One of the key tenets of gentle parenting is to avoid punishment and instead rely on communication and empathy to guide a child’s habits. A lack of defined rules and structure, essential for their sense of safety and stability, can potentially lead to these frustrations in children:

  • Feeling insecure
  • Feeling anxious

Critics think this approach might not establish clear boundaries, potentially leading to confusion and stress for the child.

2. Overemphasis on Emotions

While gentle parenting highly values a child’s emotional health, some contend it might excessively focus on emotions, overshadowing vital skills like reasoning, self-control, and motivation.

What critics think: Critics of gentle parenting suggest it might not sufficiently address these developmental aspects.

3. Lack of Coaching

Another potential downside of gentle parenting is that it may not provide enough coaching for children. Coaching involves teaching children specific skills and strategies to help them succeed, such as:

  • How to handle difficult social situations
  • How to persist in the face of a challenge

As a result, children raised without coaching may struggle to develop important skills that are necessary for success in life.

A parenting coach or child psychologist can offer strategies and support to help children develop grit and determination.

4. Difficulty with Routines

Children thrive on routine and predictability, and without it, they may become anxious or have difficulty regulating their emotions. While it’s essential to be responsive to a child’s needs, it’s also important to provide structure and consistency in their daily lives.

5. Increased Likelihood of Tantrums

When children are not given clear boundaries and expectations, they may feel confused and frustrated, which can lead to meltdowns. Additionally, when parents are overly permissive, children may push boundaries even further, leading to more challenging behavior.

What critics think: Some critics argue that gentle parenting can increase the likelihood of tantrums and other challenging behaviors.

Here’s an insightful table that exhibits parents’ views, critics’ opinions, and solutions to balance empathy with structure in child development.

AspectParents’ Point of View on Gentle ParentingCritics’ PerspectiveProposed Solutions
Lack of Healthy BoundariesStruggle to balance empathy with the need for structureMay lead to confusion and stress due to unclear boundariesImplement consistent routines; clearly communicate expectations and consequences
Overemphasis on EmotionsChallenges in maintaining a balance between child’s emotions and practical life skillsMay not adequately address important developmental aspects of child’s emotionsFoster emotional intelligence while teaching reasoning and self-control skills
Lack of CoachingA gentle parent may have difficulty in providing enough guidance on specific life skillsMay hinder development of essential life skills of own childrenOffer direct coaching on social skills, problem-solving, and resilience
Difficulty with RoutinesTendency to prioritize responsiveness over routine, causing inconsistencyEmphasizes need for structure and consistencyEstablish regular routines while remaining flexible to a child’s needs
Increased Likelihood of TantrumsChallenge in managing permissiveness and setting firm boundariesCan result in more tantrums and challenging behaviorsSet clear boundaries; use positive discipline strategies

The Role of Consistency and Positive Discipline

mother and daughter holding hands and talking to each other.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Consistency is one of the most important aspects of parenting, regardless of the parenting style. It is particularly important in gentle parenting, emphasizing communication, empathy, and respect.

Consistency in gentle parenting means setting clear boundaries and expectations for children and following through with consequences when those expectations are not met.

Meanwhile, positive discipline focuses on teaching children appropriate behavior and providing natural consequences for their actions. This approach avoids punishment and instead emphasizes positive growth and development.

How Do Consistency and positive discipline work together?

Consistency and positive discipline work together to promote self-esteem and responsibility in children. When children know what is expected of them and receive consistent feedback, they are more likely to develop a positive self-image and take responsibility for their actions.

Overall, parents who model these characteristics are more likely to have positive relationships with their children and to raise children who exhibit these traits themselves.

Frequently Asked Questions About The Cons of Gentle Parenting

Is gentle parenting effective?

Yes, gentle parenting is effective in promoting positive behaviors in children and developing a strong bond between parents and their children. Studies have shown that children who are raised with gentle parenting techniques tend to have better emotional regulation, self-esteem, and social skills.

What are the potential harmful effects of gentle parenting?

Some children may require a more structured approach to discipline, and gentle parenting may not be effective in addressing certain behavioral issues. Additionally, parents may feel overwhelmed or frustrated when trying to implement gentle parenting techniques, which can lead to feelings of guilt or inadequacy.

What is criticism of gentle parenting?

Critics of gentle parenting argue that it can lead to permissive parenting, in which children are not held accountable for their actions and do not learn the consequences of their behavior. Additionally, some critics argue that gentle parenting can lead to overindulging children and not preparing them for the realities of the world.

What is the natural consequence of gentle parenting?

Rather than punishing children for misbehavior, parents allow the natural consequences of their actions to occur. For example, if a child refuses to wear a coat on a cold day, they will feel cold and uncomfortable.

How does gentle parenting compare to traditional parenting?

Traditional parenting techniques often rely on punishment and rewards to shape behavior, while gentle parenting emphasizes empathy, respect, and understanding. Gentle parenting also encourages parents to view their children as individuals with unique needs and personalities rather than trying to fit them into a predetermined mold.

What are the potential drawbacks of gentle parenting?

One potential drawback of gentle parenting is that it can be time-consuming and require a lot of patience and emotional energy. Additionally, some parents may find it difficult to implement gentle parenting techniques consistently, leading to confusion or inconsistency for their children.

FINAL THOUGHTS – START Raising Awareness About The POSSIBLE CONS Of Gentle Parenting

In the intricate landscape of parenting, gentle parenting stands out for its compassionate, empathetic approach. Yet, it’s crucial to navigate its complexities with awareness and balance. While it excels in fostering emotional intelligence and a strong parent-child bond, this approach may falter in instilling discipline and resilience.

Ultimately, the key lies not in abandoning gentle parenting but in refining it. Parents should blend its empathetic core and practice gentle parenting with clear boundaries and consistent discipline to prepare children for real-world challenges. By doing so, gentle parenting transcends its limitations, evolving into a holistic approach that nurtures confident, emotionally robust, and socially adept individuals.

About Krystal DeVille

Hello! I’m Krystal DeVille. By day, I wear many hats: a homeschool teacher, wife, and mother. By night, I’m a fervent journalist, pouring my thoughts and experiences onto paper. Parenthood, for me, has been an exhilarating roller-coaster filled with emotions, invaluable lessons, and moments of sheer joy. With three wonderful kids of my own, I’ve journeyed through the highs and lows — from sleepless nights to their very first steps and those unforgettable proud parent moments.

Leave a Comment