Aware Parenting in a Nutshell


Aware Parenting is a philosophy and approach to parenting that emphasises understanding and responding to children's needs with compassion and awareness. It was created by the developmental psychologist and author Dr Aletha Solter. Some of the main aspects of Aware Parenting include:

Attachment and Connection:

Aware Parenting emphasises the importance of secure attachment and building strong connected relationships between parents and children. This attuned connection to our children supports emotional wellbeing and resilience.

Emotional Release and Healing:

The approach acknowledges that children experience a wide range of emotions in response to the stresses and challenges they face in life, and it encourages parents to support their children in expressing and processing these emotions in the safety of the parent-child relationship. It recognises that children are born knowing how to utilise their innate healing mechanisms in order to process and integrate trauma with the loving support of their parents.

Empathy and Understanding:

Core to Aware Parenting is the idea of empathetic listening and understanding. Parents are encouraged to welcome and listen actively to their children's feelings and perspectives, validating their emotions without dismissing or suppressing them. Parents are supported to become conscious of the ways in which their children's behaviour is showing them that they have accumulated feelings that need to be released through crying, tantrums, laughter and play.

Offering Limits with Empathy:

Aware Parenting shows us how to offer limits and boundaries with empathy and respect. This involves offering deep, loving connection to ensure children feel emotional safety, explaining reasons for limits in a way that children can understand, holding calm, strong limits and then holding space for their feelings.

Non-Punitive Discipline:

Instead of punishments like yelling, shaming, or physical punishment, or rewards such as bribes, Aware Parenting promotes positive discipline strategies that focus on teaching and guiding children towards positive behaviour through connection and understanding. It understands that behaviour is always communication and that children always have legitimate reasons for behaving the way they are. It supports parents to look underneath behaviour to identify the unmet needs, the need for further information and the accumulated feelings that are driving the behaviour. It understands that coercion, manipulation or control are detrimental to children's wellbeing and damage the parent-child relationship.

Awareness of our own Trauma:

This approach encourages parents to become aware of their own emotional activations which can impact their interactions with their children. By recognising these triggers, and getting support, listening and healing for themselves, parents can respond to their children with more unconditionally loving connection and play, without their own trauma getting in the way of their parenting. It prioritises parents getting support to process and integrate their own painful experiences from childhood and adulthood too.

The Power of Play:

Aware parenting understands that play between children and parents is a very effective way to build close connections, to enhance children's feelings of emotional safety, to elicit cooperation, and to release and heal from stress and trauma. There are 9 types of attachment play that support this. 

Holistic View of Children:

Aware Parenting takes a holistic view of child development, considering not only physical needs but also emotional, social, and cognitive aspects. It encourages parents to nurture all facets of their child's development and to trust children to grow, learn and heal in their own unique time.

Understanding of Each Child's Individuality:

Each child is seen as a unique individual with their own temperament, needs, and feelings. Aware Parenting supports parents in respecting and nurturing their child's individuality. Parents are encouraged to offer attuned responses to their children, observing each individual child and respecting their differences, and celebrating the gifts, beauty and personality of each child.

Everyone's Needs Matter in the Family:

Aware Parenting understands that everyone in the family has legitimate needs and that unmet needs are often a source of unenjoyable behaviour for parents as well as children. It encourages parents to ensure they are finding ways to meet their own needs to avoid becoming resentful, exhausted or overwhelmed. It recognises that children have strong needs, particularly for connection, for choice and for autonomy and agency and that, when these needs are not met, it is often very painful for children and contributes to behaviour challenges and big feelings. It recognises that parents have strong legitimate needs for support, connection, belonging, play, meaning, acknowledgement, autonomy and peace and that, when these needs are not met for us, it is very painful, particularly if these have been chronically unmet for us for all of our life. It recognises the immense value for parents of finding small ways to meet these needs for ourselves, if we are to find ways to meet our children's needs too.

Cultivating Trust:

Aware Parenting trusts that children are innately loving and compassionate and don’t need punishments and rewards to behave in loving ways. It trusts that children know exactly what they need for their optimal development. It understands that it is hard for us, living in this culture that does not trust human nature, to be trusting. Coming back to the basics of Aware Parenting supports us to be able to trust our children and ourselves, and to trust that they can be resilient to navigate the challenges they will face in life with our loving support. 

The Power of Aware Parenting:

The power of Aware Parenting lies in its focus on creating strong emotional connections, promoting emotional wellbeing, and fostering a supportive environment where children feel understood, safe, loved and valued. By offering compassion, awareness, and respectful communication, parents can build a foundation of trust and emotional security that supports their children's emotional and physical well-being and development. It also offers parents a framework within which to release and heal their own stress and trauma. It brings a deeper understanding of how to bring compassion and connection to all our relationships in the family, in the community and in the wider world.

If you would like to learn more about how to practise Aware Parenting, to be empowered to bring more connection, compassion and fun to your family, to explore and heal your own younger parts and to enjoy parenting again, I am here for you. 

Your parenting coach and mentor

About Joss Goulden

I am a trauma-informed Parenting Coach and a Level 2 Aware Parenting instructor, certified with the Aware Parenting Institute. I have been practising Aware Parenting for 17 years and am the mother of 2 children, aged 19 and 17.

I am also passionate about Homeschooling and Natural Learning. I have homeschooled my 2 children and I have been supporting families with Homeschooling and Natural Learning for many years.

Aware Parenting with Joss

I am so passionate about sharing this beautiful approach with parents. I believe that Aware Parenting is THE solution for so many of the challenges facing the world. - Joss Goulden, Aware Parenting Instructor
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