Aware Parenting is a practical parenting philosophy developed by Aletha Solter, a Swiss/American developmental psychologist, who is recognized internationally as an expert on attachment, trauma, and non-punitive discipline. The philosophy consists of 3 building blocks:
1. Attachment-style parenting
- Natural childbirth and early bonding
- Plenty of physical contact
- Prolonged breast-feeding
- Prompt responsiveness to crying
- Sensitive attunement
2. Non-punitive discipline
- No punishments of any kind (including spanking, “time-out”, and artificial “consequences”)
- No rewards or bribes
- A search for underlying needs and feelings
- Anger management for parents
- Peaceful conflict-resolution (family meetings, mediation, etc.)
3. Healing from stress and trauma
- Recognition of stress and trauma (including unmet needs) as primary causes of behavioral and emotional problems
- Emphasis on prevention of stress and trauma
- Recognition of the healing effects of play, laughter, and crying in the context of a loving parent/child relationship
- Respectful, empathic listening and acceptance of children’s emotions
The 10 principles of Aware Parenting
1. Aware parents fill their children’s needs for physical contact (holding, cuddling, etc.). They do not worry about “spoiling” their children.
2. Aware parents accept the entire range of emotions and listen non-judgmentally to children’s expressions of feelings. They realize that they cannot prevent all sadness, anger, or frustration, and they do not attempt to stop children from releasing painful feelings through crying or raging.
3. Aware parents offer age-appropriate stimulation, and trust children to learn at their own rate and in their own way. They do not try to hurry children on to new stages of development.
4. Aware parents offer encouragement for learning new skills, but do not judge children’s performance with either criticism or evaluative praise.
5. Aware parents spend time each day giving full attention to their children. During this special, quality time, they observe, listen, respond, and join in their children’s play (if invited to do so), but they do not direct the children’s activities.
6. Aware parents protect children from danger, but they do not attempt to prevent all of their children’s mistakes, problems, or conflicts.
7. Aware parents encourage children to be autonomous problem-solvers and help only when needed. They do not solve their children’s problems for them.
8. Aware parents set reasonable boundaries and limits, gently guide children towards acceptable behavior, and consider everyone’s needs when solving conflicts. They do not control children with bribes, rewards, threats, or punishments of any kind.
9. Aware parents take care of themselves and are honest about their own needs and feelings. They do not sacrifice themselves to the point of becoming resentful.
10. Aware parents strive to be aware of the ways in which their own childhood pain interferes with their ability to be good parents, and they make conscious efforts to avoid passing on their own hurts to their children.
About the author:
Aware Parenting is based on the work of Dr. Aletha Solter. She is a developmental psychologist, international speaker, consultant, and founder of the Aware Parenting Institute. Her books have been translated into many languages, and she is recognized internationally as an expert on attachment, trauma, and non-punitive discipline.For more information, please see Dr. Aletha Solter’s books, The Aware Baby, Helping Young Children Flourish, Tears and Tantrums, Raising Drug-Free Kids, and Attachment Play.
Find out more?
Chris Muller, MSc, is a psychologist and Aware Parenting Instructor in The Netherlands. Chris offers Aware Parenting Workshops and personal guidance. It's her passion to support parents and caretakers in experiencing more joy, understanding and connection with children and with themselves.
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