Mom Yells At Toddler For Banging His Toy Because She 'Asked Nicely Too Many Times' & Says 'Gentle Parenting' Doesn't Work

Experts say she misunderstands how gentle-parenting works.

Toddler with toy TikTok

Gentle parenting is a hot-button topic nowadays, with many parents feeling like it doesn't work and others feeling like it's a life-changing new approach to parenting and considering it to be the only safe, respectful and effective method to avoid the pitfalls and mistakes most of us watched our own parents make.

But as one mom on TikTok revealed in a recent video with her toddler son, the method requires a level of patience and understanding most people, let alone most exhausted, harried parents, can find hard to come by. 


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A mom on TikTok yelled at her toddler for banging his toy because she had 'asked nicely too many times.'

The video shows a scenario instantly familiar to anyone who's ever spent time with a baby.

As her baby makes quite the ruckus banging his toy on the TV stand while he watches a show, the TikToker attempts to gently correct him numerous times. "JuJu stop," she says again and again. "Put that down, you can't do that," she repeats several times over.



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"You can't do that, bub, come over here," the mom tries again, whereupon her toddler simply turns around and looks at her, then returns to banging his toy—a scenario surely familiar to many parents. 

Finally, the TikToker loses her temper and yells at the top of her lungs, "I said no, little boy!" The toddler then turns from the TV and toddles obediently over to his mother.

"I asked nicely too many times," she wrote in her caption.

The TikTok mom framed her video as evidence that gentle parenting doesn't work, and many parents agree.

In the onscreen text, the mom summed up her video by saying, "gentle parenting my a--." and TikTok is full of videos from frustrated parents who have similar feelings about the technique and, similarly to this mom, end up yelling at their kids instead. 




Others, like the dad below, argue that "gentle parenting works amazing if you have a gentle kid, and if you have the patience of a kindergarten teacher paired with the on-the-spot emotional intelligence of a therapist."

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Even stand-up comedians like the one below have started complaining about it, which is how you know the sneering exasperation for the method is reaching critical mass. 


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But proponents of the method argue that these people fundamentally misunderstand what gentle parenting even is. They argue that it's not a lack of discipline, but rather discipline with a child's emotional abilities—which are limited and wildly distinct from adults' in myriad ways—top of mind. 

Many followers of the technique, like anti-bias educator Janelle Scales, seen below, are quick to say that the key to successful gentle parenting is self-control—on the parents' part, not the children's.


But there's a far simpler and more fundamental reason why gentle parenting can fail, according to experts. 

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Small toddlers and babies need physical boundaries, not verbal direction because their brains are not yet able to process verbal discipline.

Parenting coach Marcela Collier, who leads workshops on gentle parenting and other parenting issues, laid out how it works in a response to the video of the mom yelling at her toddler.

"Gentle parenting changes according to the developmental stage," Collier explained. "Little kids like that learn to follow physical boundaries before they learn to follow non-physical boundaries." This, she went on to explain, is precisely why we buy things like baby gates and playpens for little ones—and videos like this TikTok mom's are why Collier erected a baby gate around her own TV when her own children were small.

"Or that physical barrier could be you," she went on to explain. "Go pick them up, and redirect them to a place where they can keep exploring."

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In other videos, Collier explains how this works for older children, like a kid who hits her mom because she's angry. In gentle parenting, after setting the boundary that hitting isn't okay, Collier suggests offering the child something else to do with their hands instead so that they can release the energy of their anger another way. This allows you to "meet them at their level...and developmental stage."

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The bottom line, Collier says, is "the only way gentle parenting will work is if we know child development, at least the basics. That's parenting with understanding."

It may not be easy—this writer's sister-in-law says she locks herself in the car and screams into the steering wheel approximately 100 times a day while gentle parenting her kids—but it can be done.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.