The 4 Basic Assumptions of Aware Parenting


What does science tell us about children?

Dr. Aletha Solter first outlined the 4 assumptions of Aware Parenting in her book The Aware Baby. These assumptions are so helpful for parents to counter some of the misunderstandings and incorrect assumptions about children in the wider culture and to support parents to become really clear about who children truly are by nature and what they need from us. They support us to understand how best to nurture children in ways that help them to thrive, how to minimise adversity, the impact of trauma on children and how to use this trauma-informed approach to prevent and repair. They support us to meet our children's attachment needs, how to understand behaviour and how to help children to heal from stress and trauma.

  1. Children know what they need for optimal physical, emotional and intellectual development.
  2. If their needs are met and they are not hurt or stressed, they will be cooperative, compassionate and non-violent.
  3. Children are extremely vulnerable. Stress, trauma, or unmet needs can have long-lasting, negative effects on their behavior and their wellbeing.
  4. Children can recover from the effects of stress and trauma, and they are born knowing how to do so.

What do Children Really Need in order to Thrive?

I am so grateful for Aletha Solter's profound wisdom about humans. 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 trusts that whenever their behaviour is not their naturally cooperative and loving selves, there are legitimate needs and/or feelings underneath their behaviour.  

Aware Parenting understands that children are very sensitive and are easily overwhelmed, often feeling stressed and easily distressed. However, it also deeply trusts the human body, and the intuitive knowing that each child has about how to heal from stress and trauma and how to feel naturally relaxed enough to sleep. It trusts that they know what and how to learn. It trusts that their bodies know what, when and how much to eat. It trusts that all child know how to be securely attached and yearn for connection. It trusts that children are all on their own journey with learning and with the timing of their individuation. 

Why is it Hard to Trust Ourselves & Our Children?

It is hard for us, living in this culture that does not trust human nature, to be trusting. Most of us grew up with our innate wisdom not being trusted, learning to believe that we did not know what we need to flourish physically, emotionally and intellectually. And we internalised this mistrust, and therefore find it hard to trust ourselves, particularly our own innate healing capacity, knowing what our body needs and understanding that underneath our behaviour is always legitimate needs or feelings.

Coming back to these 4 assumptions of Aware parenting supports us to be able to trust our children and to trust that they can be resilient to navigate the challenges they will face in life with our loving support. They are also really empowering for parents to understand that what we do profoundly matters and that we nurture our children's physical and emotional wellbeing when we parent in this way.

And these assumptions also remind us that our innate knowing of what we as parents need for optimal wellbeing is also still there inside us, that we still are by nature loving and cooperative and, when our behaviour is not that, there is a valid reason why. It reminds us that we are also susceptible to stress and have valid big feelings when we experience the often intensely stressful circumstances of life, without the support we require. And it reminds us that, when we utilise our innate healing mechanisms of crying with loving support, play and laughter, we can still heal too. 

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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