I never tell my toddler off and let her set her own bedtimes

I’m a ‘respectful’ parent and never tell my toddler off – she can set her own bedtimes and I don’t make her share with other children

A mother-of-one has been slammed after revealing she never makes her toddler share toys and has no set bedtime or punishment for her. 

Zoe Ayre, 36, from Yorkshire, lives with her daughter Hattie, one, and her husband, Andrew, 37 – and claims she has been ‘criticised’ for her modern parenting attitudes.

The children’s book author used to believe in the ‘traditional’ upbringing of children before she had Hattie. 

But after reading The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read while she was pregnant, which focuses on ‘respectful’ parenting behaviours, Zoe was keen to switch up her attitude.

A mother-of-one has been slammed after revealing she never makes her toddler share toys and has no set bedtime or punishment for her

A mother-of-one has been slammed after revealing she never makes her toddler share toys and has no set bedtime or punishment for her

She lets her child go to sleep whenever she pleases and does not force her to share with others, even allowing her to refuse to kiss or hug family members. 

Her ‘respectful’ style of parenting has split opinion and led to some difficult conversations. 

Zoe said: ‘I’ve had comments, particularly from the older generation, where this approach is unusual to them,’

‘One time that really stuck in my mind was some elderly ladies discussing when children are at their most “vile” after talking to my daughter.

But after reading The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read while she was pregnant, which focuses on 'respectful' parenting behaviours, Zoe was keen to switch up her attitude

But after reading The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read while she was pregnant, which focuses on ‘respectful’ parenting behaviours, Zoe was keen to switch up her attitude

The children's book author used to believe in the 'traditional' upbringing of children before she had Hattie

 The children’s book author used to believe in the ‘traditional’ upbringing of children before she had Hattie

Zoe Ayre, 36, from Yorkshire, lives with her daughter Hattie, one and her husband, Andrew, 37 (pictured) – and claims she has been 'criticised' for her modern parenting attitudes.

 Zoe Ayre, 36, from Yorkshire, lives with her daughter Hattie, one and her husband, Andrew, 37 (pictured) – and claims she has been ‘criticised’ for her modern parenting attitudes.

‘With bed sharing and unfixed bedtimes, I’ve found it’s been a very difficult topic for some people to get on board with, particularly because it’s been branded unsafe over the years.

‘As she’s gotten older, people ask when we’re going to “sort the problem out” and move her into her own room.

‘It’s hard as a parent not to feel defensive when someone questions your approach, but I try to focus on what feels right to me.

‘I maintain that if it’s not a problem for my husband and I, then there is no reason for anyone else to think it’s a problem.’

With bed sharing and unfixed bedtimes, Zoe has found it's been a very difficult topic for some people to get on board with, particularly because it's been branded unsafe over the years

With bed sharing and unfixed bedtimes, Zoe has found it’s been a very difficult topic for some people to get on board with, particularly because it’s been branded unsafe over the years

Zoe maintains that if her parenting style is not a problem for herself and her husband, then there is no reason for anyone else to think it's a problem'

Zoe maintains that if her parenting style is not a problem for herself and her husband, then there is no reason for anyone else to think it’s a problem’

As Hattie has gotten older, people ask Zoe when they are going to 'sort the problem out' and move Hattie into her own room.

As Hattie has gotten older, people ask Zoe when they are going to ‘sort the problem out’ and move Hattie into her own room.

As sleeping patterns are unpredictable, the author has decided to let her daughter be in control of when she takes herself to bed – which can be as late as 9:30pm if she’s taken a daytime nap.

Speaking about the bedtime routine and other practices, she said: ‘I rarely have an overtired, upset child because she’s been able to sleep whenever she needs to.

‘It’s really helped me emotionally, because I don’t have the added stress of expectation and to fit our lives into a set routine.

‘I don’t force her to share with others either and I will stand up for her if another child takes away something she’s playing with.

As sleeping patterns are unpredictable, the author has decided to let her daughter be in control of when she takes herself to bed

As sleeping patterns are unpredictable, the author has decided to let her daughter be in control of when she takes herself to bed

Zoe said it's really helped her emotionally, because she does not have the added stress of expectation and to fit their lives into a set routine

Zoe said it’s really helped her emotionally, because she does not have the added stress of expectation and to fit their lives into a set routine

Speaking about the bedtime routine and other practices, Zoe said she  rarely has an overtired, upset child because she's been able to sleep whenever she needs to

Speaking about the bedtime routine and other practices, Zoe said she  rarely has an overtired, upset child because she’s been able to sleep whenever she needs to

‘This tends to elicit reaction from parents who are very pro-sharing and are usually surprised that another parent is going against the norm.

‘I do take the same approach if Hattie were to try and take something from another child to ensure that I’m giving her a consistent message.

‘When talking about these sorts of topics online, I’ve had comments from people who think this approach would lead to her becoming a ‘spoilt brat’ or similar – but they don’t understand.

‘The aim is to model for how she can respond as she grows and the types of things she can say to stand up for herself, but in a polite manner.

When Zoe talks about these sorts of topics online, she has had comments from people who think her approach would lead to her becoming a 'spoilt brat' or similar

When Zoe talks about these sorts of topics online, she has had comments from people who think her approach would lead to her becoming a ‘spoilt brat’ or similar

Zoe's aim is to model how she can respond as her daughter Hattie grows and the types of things she can say to stand up for herself, but in a polite manner

Zoe’s aim is to model how she can respond as her daughter Hattie grows and the types of things she can say to stand up for herself, but in a polite manner

Zoe and Andrew's child regularly offers others toys or food and Zoe thinks allowing her to develop naturally takes away the 'negativity' around sharing

Zoe and Andrew’s child regularly offers others toys or food and Zoe thinks allowing her to develop naturally takes away the ‘negativity’ around sharing

‘Now, she regularly offers others toys or food and I think allowing her to develop naturally takes away the “negativity” around sharing.

‘Instead, this focus is shifted onto how good it feels when we do something nice for others, which will hopefully become something she intrinsically wants to do.’

Aside from these attitudes, she also teaches her toddler that it’s okay to be upset and cry, rather than trying to stop her – with the aim of helping her regulate her emotions instead of stifling them.

Zoe also believes it’s important to teach her child when to say ‘no’ from an early age, which she carries out with family members and friends alike surrounding affection.

Aside from these attitudes, Zoe teaches her toddler that it's okay to be upset and cry, rather than trying to stop her

Aside from these attitudes, Zoe teaches her toddler that it’s okay to be upset and cry, rather than trying to stop her

Zoe also believes it's important to teach her child when to say 'no' from an early age, which she carries out with family members and friends alike surrounding affection

Zoe also believes it’s important to teach her child when to say ‘no’ from an early age, which she carries out with family members and friends alike surrounding affection

Hattie loves cuddles with people (pictured), but there are 'odd' occasions where she does not want affection

Hattie loves cuddles with people (pictured), but there are ‘odd’ occasions where she does not want affection

She said: ‘Hattie generally loves cuddles, but there are odd occasions where she doesn’t want affection.

‘We always ask if we can give her a cuddle and if the answer is no, then we respect that.

‘If she’s refused this from family, I have asked them not to force it and there have been surprising looks before, but never any arguments.

‘With cuddles, or anything to do with our bodies, it’s so important to teach respect and these early lessons will help with consent.

If Hattie has refused hugs from family members, Zoe has asked them not to force it, and admits this has led to 'surprising' looks before but 'never arguments'

If Hattie has refused hugs from family members, Zoe has asked them not to force it, and admits this has led to ‘surprising’ looks before but ‘never arguments’ 

The family are keen not to enforce punishments in the home, as Zoe thinks they miss the point of why they are behaving like that in the first place

The family are keen not to enforce punishments in the home, as Zoe thinks they miss the point of why they are behaving like that in the first place

While she has questioned her approach, especially due to the social norms which we face in society surrounding parenting, she has quickly realised this method is right for her

While she has questioned her approach, especially due to the social norms which we face in society surrounding parenting, she has quickly realised this method is right for her

‘I also don’t enforce punishments in our household, as I think they miss the point of why they are behaving like that in the first place.

‘Take the “naughty step” for example, this teaches them that our love is conditional upon how they behave and that when they are struggling, we exclude them.

‘We often see that children are punished for being children and a good gauge is if you wouldn’t treat an adult like this, then you shouldn’t treat your child in this way.’

While she has questioned her approach, especially due to the social norms which we face in society surrounding parenting, she has quickly realised this method is right for her.

Now, Zoe believes these attitudes have developed a secure attachment, where her daughter knows her needs will be met – day or night

Now, Zoe believes these attitudes have developed a secure attachment, where her daughter knows her needs will be met – day or night

Zoe says that the reality is that children are learning – their brains aren't fully developed and they are still learning how to interact with the world around them

Zoe says that the reality is that children are learning – their brains aren’t fully developed and they are still learning how to interact with the world around them

Now, she believes these attitudes have developed a secure attachment, where her daughter knows her needs will be met – day or night.

Zoe added: ‘I hope this will mean she is able to advocate for herself and to stand up for what she believes in.

‘Of course, there have been times when I’ve reacted in a way that I wish I hadn’t, for instance with shouting and telling her off.

‘It’s those times where I’ve slipped up, that I question myself and reaffirm my approach is what feels right for me.

‘I don’t think it’s ever my place to say that another parent is wrong for following a parenting style that works for them – as we only do what’s best for our children.

‘The respectful parenting approach isn’t to be a friend rather than a parent, as there isn’t a lack of boundaries or teaching right from wrong.

‘It’s just the way in which those boundaries are managed and how the child is supported throughout the process.

‘The reality is that our children are learning – their brains aren’t fully developed and they are still learning how to interact with the world around them.’

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