Is Slow Parenting Right for You?

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There’s no shortage of parenting theories and styles in this world, and it can be difficult to sift out the chatter and figure out what might actually work for your family versus what’s currently making a splashy headline. Parents often ask me about different theories and styles to get a sense of where positive parenting fits into the mix.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: Many of these styles and theories share philosophies. The term “slow parenting” (also referred to as “simplicity parenting”) isn’t new, and the philosophy stems from the slow movement. In a nutshell, this parenting style advocates for child-directed play, few (if any) adult directed activities (think sports, music classes, etc.), independent problem solving, and less running around.

In some ways, slow parenting feels like a much-needed antidote to modern parenting.

Before you try to get a refund on that soccer season, check out what to expect with slow parenting:

Tons of free play!

Child-directed play plays a starring role in slow parenting. It’s no big secret that unstructured play boasts many benefits for young children. Through self-directed play, kids learn to explore their own interests, work through obstacles, and verbalize and cope with emotions. Child-directed play even fosters emerging math and literacy skills.

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Play is the natural inclination of the child. You don’t need tons of toys and a special play area to make this part of the philosophy work in your home. All you need is free time and a willingness to join the play (should you receive an invitation).

Increase family time

Slow parenting emphasizes quality over quantity, being in the moment, and strengthening connections as a family. To that end, family time is a central focus of slow parenting.

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This doesn’t mean you need to mark up your calendar with a bunch of fun family activities. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. Taking a family walk, cooking a meal together, and even hanging out in the yard together are great ways to resist the pull of technology and spend quality time together.

When families are overscheduled, it can be difficult to truly connect and get to know one another. Slow parenting encourages connection over activities and/or stuff.

Break your digital habits

Some advocates of slow parenting suggest living a tech-free life, but the real theory here is that the constant pull of technology (including TV) has the potential to break our human connections. When we’re looking down, binge watching, and zoning out, we’re missing the people right in front of us. Finding balance is crucial.

Schedule your tech and TV time (for the kids, too) and make efforts to engage in some of that stuff together. Playing games together can be great fun!

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Bottom line: Slow parenting doesn’t mean abandoning everything you normally do in favor of doing nothing at all. It means slowing down and finding the pace and activity level that works for your family and gives your kids plenty of time to figure out the world on their own terms.

Would you make slow parenting a part of your every day life?

What do you think?

Is Slow Parenting Right for You?

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" and "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World". She earned her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Boston College and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She divides her time between her family, her private practice and her writing. Passionate about he ... More

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