Meet the mom who practices “gentle parenting” — hardly saying no, rarely yelling, and encouraging her child to “express, not suppress” their feelings — even when she’s throwing a full-blown tantrum.
Namwila Mulwanda, 23, says she grew up in a “strict African household with authoritarian parents”.
She feels her upbringing affected her mental health, there was an “expectation of blind obedience” from her parents and says she is an “ex-philanthropy”.
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After studying psychology and having a legal background, Namwila was fascinated by child psychology and various parenting methods.
Before giving birth to their daughter Nhyara, 17 months, Namwila and her partner Zephi, 23, decided to raise their children with a “gentle parenting style”.
The philosophy enforces discipline and boundaries with kindness and respect.
Although it’s not always easy, parents can already see the results when their tot grows up into a happy and social little girl.
Namwila, a stay-at-home mum from the UK city of Colchester, said: “I just want her to have the childhood that I didn’t have.
“We incorporated gentle parenting from the start, we allow her to express her feelings and we want to instill confidence in her.
“It’s not about just letting your kids do what they want, it’s about giving them space to understand the world with mutual respect, empathy and compassion.”
The mother reveals that “gentle parents” can still be strict and disciplined, but there’s a difference between discipline and punishment.
“There are certain things we would never do — we would never spank our daughter and we would not suppress the expression of emotions,” Namwila said.
Admittedly, the mother reveals that allowing her child to express themselves when they’re throwing a public tantrum can be difficult, as it can make Namwila feel insecure.
However, she added, “If you suppress a child’s ability to feel, they might grow up not being able to express their feelings in a healthy way.”
According to the parenting expert, it is better to deal with a child’s feelings in peace and collectively, because loud voices and shouting do not get through to the child.
“Too much noise causes the brain to shut down and children don’t get the words right,” Namwila said.
In moments when Nhyara is emotional, her mother will patiently work through with her daughter what upsets the little girl so much.
Namwila added, “When children throw tantrums, the logical side of their brain is not functioning and they are being guided by the right, emotional side of their brain.
In those moments, Namwila will say, “Let’s try to calm down.”
“I can see you’re upset right now, you’re upset because I took your toy away from you.”
She would then explain why she had taken the toy away from her daughter.
Nhyara, like many toddlers, would lash out in frustration and throw her body around rather than get angry.
The mother realizes that the child is simply emotional and has no intention of hurting her mother.
In those moments, Namwila would say, “It’s okay to get upset, it’s not okay to hit mom.”
Then they calmed down with deep breathing exercises.
Sometimes Namwila will hold up her hand like a five and ask Nhyara to blow it out.
According to Namwila, “everyone is human and can get frustrated and yell,” but if you feel like you’re going to lash out, it’s best to leave the room and explain that you’re taking a breather.
“The foundation of gentle parenting is speaking to your child from a place of respect and understanding and learning not to yell,” she said.
“If you yell, you can apologize afterwards and show your responsibility.”
After her daughter has settled down, it’s time to deliver a ‘teaching moment’ – she explains why hitting is not okay as it hurts.
Instead, they will use “gentle hands” and show how she should be touching her face – by caressing it instead.
The progressive parents also want to teach Nhyara about consent and will ask how she wants to say goodbye to people and loved ones.
“We will always ask if she would like a hug or a kiss or if she just wants to wave or say goodbye,” Namwila added.
The tot loves climbing and is risk-taking, Namwila said: “She wants to jump and hop off the sofa, so we say feet on the ground because it’s not safe.”
She tells Nhyara, “Tell Mumma ‘I want to climb, please’ and we’ll take her outside to climb where it’s safe.”
Namwila says gentle parenting involves being intentional about your language, and claims that overusing words like “stop” and “no” loses the desired effect.
“We use no and only stop when she’s done something really unsafe,” she said.
“Instead, we make longer sentences like, ‘Mom doesn’t like it when you hit it,’ and then explain why.
“We also encourage her to do things on her own and try not to interfere to teach her to be independent and resilient.”
Being a mixed race, Nhyara’s mother is determined to teach her daughter self-love because growing up she struggled with her race and self-acceptance.
“I always tell Nhyara, ‘I love your hair, I love your skin,'” Namwila said.
“I tell her ‘You’re so smart, you’re so smart, you’re so strong’, and my daughter repeats, ‘I’m so smart, I’m so smart, I’m so strong’.
“She usually just repeats what I say with ‘you are,’ but it’s so sweet — and it teaches her to bring positivity into the world.”
The mother also practices “pointed praise” and instead of simply saying “well done,” the parents choose to be more explicit in their compliments.
“For example, if she scribbled something, I’ll say you worked really hard on it, I like the pattern,” Namwila said.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love ‘a job well done,’ it’s just about being more conscious of your praise.”
The mother has been accused of “raising a snowflake” but argues she would rather raise a child equipped with confidence and the tools to take on the world.
“I know I can’t stop bad things from happening in the world, but we want her to have the strength to take on the world and share her light with the world,” Namwila said.
“You shouldn’t be hard on your child to prepare them for a tough world.”
Basics of gentle parenting
- Raise your voice and only yell at children in situations where they are genuinely unsure
- Don’t overuse the words “stop” and “no.”
- Never hit or hit your child
- Recite positive affirmations about their personality, such as being smart and strong
- Encourage them to “feel their feelings” and overcome them—even if it means throwing a full-blown tantrum
- Use specific praise that focuses on a specific thing they did well, rather than a general “good job.”
https://7news.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/inside-gentle-parenting-mum-told-shes-raising-a-snowflake-on-why-she-rarely-tells-her-girl-no-c-8533495 Tips for ‘gentle parenting’: Mom said she raises a ‘snowflake’ on why she rarely says ‘no’ to her girl