Inside Kate Middleton's Unique Parenting Style

On July 22, 2013, Princess Catherine's life changed forever. Prince George was born at St. Mary's Hospital in London, making Catherine a mother and indelibly changing the British royal family. Naturally, this initial transition from "newlywed" to "mother" was not easy for the princess. As she shared in a speech for the Best Beginnings educational campaign, there were moments when she felt taken aback by just how much her life had changed. Catherine admitted: "Nothing can really prepare you for you the sheer overwhelming experience of what it means to become a mother. It is full of complex emotions of joy, exhaustion, love, and worry, all mixed together. Your fundamental identity changes overnight" (via People).

Of course, as time went on, Catherine grew increasingly confident in her new role as a mom. In 2015, she and Prince William had an adorable baby girl, Princess Charlotte, and in 2018, they welcomed Prince Louis, as well. However, the Princess of Wales never forgot how challenging it was to adjust to motherhood. As a result, Catherine has met with parenting specialists, including mental health professionals, charity leaders, and scientific researchers to develop a strategy for helping other moms.

Eventually, this combination of research, community outreach, and experience has helped the princess create her own unique way of raising kids. From her strong belief in the power of a support network to her efforts to respect her children as individuals, Princess Catherine's parenting style is all about creating confident young people.

Princess Catherine didn't always feel confident in her parenting style

These days, Princess Catherine is seen as something of an authority on parenting. Thanks to her patronage of motherhood-focused charities, such as the Maternal Mental Health Alliance or Family Action, the princess is often in contact with some of the foremost experts on the subject of raising children. That being said, at the beginning of her motherhood journey, Catherine's parenting style was not so established. In fact, the princess has admitted that she did not always feel confident in herself as a mother.

Speaking on the podcast, "Happy Mum, Happy Baby," Catherine divulged just how much information she has gleaned since becoming a mom in 2013 — and how badly she would have liked to put that information to use sooner. The princess explained: "I've learned a huge amount. There's stuff that I would have done so differently, you know, right at the beginning, considering what I've learnt now" (via Acast).

Among the biggest lessons that Catherine has learned is likely the importance of new moms feeling connected to others. As she revealed on an official visit to the Ely & Caerau Children's Centre in Wales, Catherine felt alone in the months following Prince George's birth. The princess told an audience of mothers, "George was a tiny, tiny, little baby ... It was so isolated, so cut off. I didn't have family around" (via Today). "So, if only I had had a center like this."

She learned to rely on others for help

Although Princess Catherine felt isolated at the beginning of her motherhood journey, she eventually learned just how important it is to reach out to others for help. On an episode of the podcast, "Happy Mum, Happy Baby," Catherine revealed how this idea of community became an integral part of her parenting style. Apparently, shortly after becoming a mother, Catherine believed that she had to raise Prince George without anyone else's support. 

Eventually, a "wise" person intervened and told the princess that she needed to lean on others. Recalling the key conversation that changed her mind, Catherine shared: "But actually somebody used to say — a very wise man — did say to me, 'We are more like animals than we think we are. We need people around us. The more people you have around your children who are safe and loving and caring, the better'" (via Acast).  

Luckily, Catherine took this idea to heart. She confessed: "It was a real weight off my shoulder that actually it's not totally my responsibility to do everything because, you know, we all have good days, bad days. And, actually, if you can dilute that with others who aren't, on that particular day, struggling or I think it makes such a difference." One of the people that Catherine has been known to rely on is her mother, Carole Middleton. The doting grandmother is reportedly very hands-on and even gardens with Catherine's three children.   

The princess believes that mental health support is integral for families

Princess Catherine's parenting style is not just about creating resilient and confident children; it's also about ensuring that she and Prince William, as parents, have the mental health support that they need to be as present for their little ones as possible. As she revealed on the podcast, "Happy Mum, Happy Baby," Catherine believes that championing parents can have a profound effect on the development of their children. 

The princess shared: "There is such a key, sort of, link, you know, 'happy mum, happy baby.' There is scientific evidence around how the mother feels, how the parents, or the carers who are looking after the children in their care. [There's a] direct link between family wellbeing, really, and then the happiness and wellbeing of the children in their care" (via Acast). 

Because of this dynamic, Catherine has been vocal about creating safe spaces for parents to talk about their mental health challenges and receive support. As she explained in a video message for the 2022 Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week, "no one is immune to experiencing anxiety and depression" during the first few years of their parenting journey (via the Daily Mail). The first step toward dealing with these issues as a society, the princess says, is for parents to seek mental health support. Speaking at the Heads Together charity, Catherine said: "Our children need us to look after ourselves and get the support we need" (via Stylist). 

Catherine thinks that mothers should share their struggles

Because Princess Catherine's parenting style recognizes the importance of the parent's wellbeing, she believes that caregivers need to reach out to each other for help. After all, raising children is objectively hard. And, in Catherine's view, parents who speak openly about their struggles can find support in each other. As the princess shared at a Heads Together charity event, there is no benefit to "pretending we're all coping perfectly and loving every minute of it" (via Stylist). Instead, Catherine said that parents should be honest about the challenges of child-rearing. "It is right to talk about motherhood as a wonderful thing, but we also need to talk about its stresses and strains. It's okay not to find it easy, and asking for help should not be seen as a sign of weakness."

It might seem unusual for a parenting style to focus on the parents, as opposed to just children. However, there is a reason for Catherine's belief system. According to the princess, the more that parents are willing to discuss their challenges, the more they can rely on each other. And, the more support that these parents have, the better off their children are. "What we experience in our childhood really has a lifelong impact on our future health and happiness," Catherine explained in the podcast, "Happy Mum, Happy Baby" (via Acast). In her opinion, one of the best ways to reduce childhood trauma is to give parents support. 

Princess Catherine wants to teach her kids to enjoy simple things

As a member of the British royal family, Princess Catherine is able to provide her kids with a life of luxury. Nevertheless, the princess wants to teach her children how to appreciate the little things that make life beautiful. Indeed, a key element of Catherine's parenting style is showing Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis how to appreciate small moments of tranquility — even when life seems chaotic. Speaking on the podcast, "Happy Mum, Happy Baby," Catherine shared: "I think the things that really resonate with me most is the simple things. ... I see that even now with my own children ... Life now is so busy, so distracting. ... Sometimes the simple things like watching a fire on a really rainy day provides so much enjoyment" (via Acast).

Interestingly, Catherine's belief in enjoying life's simpler pleasures comes from the way that her own parents raised her. As the princess divulged on the podcast: "I remember that from my childhood — doing the simple things, going for a walk together. And that's what I'm really trying to do with my children as well." In her view, these little moments are what help families relax amid the rush of jobs, school, and homework. She explained: "It totally strips away all of the complications, all the pressures as a parent. And I think these experiences, as well, mean so much to children."

The princess encourages her kids to go outside

Royal kids don't always get to enjoy a normal childhood. After all, they are essentially public figures from the moment they are born, meaning their names appear in newspapers before they can even read. Luckily, though, the Princess of Wales does her best to make sure Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis get to have normal experiences, like playing outside. Indeed, part of Princess Catherine's parenting style is teaching her kids how to enjoy nature. 

In an episode of the podcast, "Happy Mum, Happy Baby," Catherine opened up about her efforts to instill a love of the outdoors in her three children. In her view, giving young people the chance to connect with nature can make a huge difference when it comes to their health and overall state of mind. "As children, we spend an awful lot of time outside. And, it's something I'm really passionate about. I think it's so great for physical wellbeing and also mental wellbeing," Catherine relayed (via Acast).

Compellingly, one of the people who has supported Catherine's efforts to make her children love the outdoors is none other than Carole Middleton. The proud grandmother has apparently encouraged George, Charlotte, and Louis to play outside — and on some occasions, she has even joined them. Chatting with Good Housekeeping, Carole revealed that she has been known to "run down the hills, climb the trees and go through the tunnel at the playground."

She does not discipline her kids using a 'naughty chair'

Many parents use a "naughty chair" to discipline their children, but Princess Catherine's parenting style is a little bit different. According to some reports, the princess does not send her kids off to sit anywhere special as a way to punish their bad behavior. Instead, she is said to try to talk things over with Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis. As one royal insider once said: "There's no 'naughty step' but there is a 'chat sofa.' The naughty child is taken away from the scene of the row or disruption and talked to calmly by either Kate or William. Things are explained and consequences outlined and they never shout at them" (via The Sun). 

Although Catherine's parenting philosophy might seem uncommon, it seems to work well for her kids. Indeed, George, Charlotte, and Louis are said to be very well-behaved, even when they're in formal environments. This is especially evident when the Waleses head to the exclusive Hurlingham Club for family dinners. In an interview with The Sun, one anonymous Hurlingham Club member shared: "The family often dine there al fresco and use the club's sporting and play facilities. There is no tantrums or food throwing and the children eat what is set before them. They queue up with the rest of the kids and parents in the Harness Room restaurant and ask for no special favors."

Part of royal parenting is avoiding the term 'kids' when referring to children

The Princess of Wales has been known to rely on the nanny, Maria Borrallo, for help raising her three children. As a result, Princess Catherine's parenting style likely involves many of the strategies that Borrallo learned while studying early childhood development at the famous nannying school, Norland College. 

According to some sources, this means that Catherine probably does not refer to Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis as "kids." Indeed, at Norland College, nannies like Borrallo learn that the word "kids" is not appropriate to use with reference to young children. In an interview with The Telegraph, Norland College representative, Julia Gaskell, explained the reasoning behind this unique philosophy. "We ask Norlanders not to say 'kids' and instead to say 'children,' because 'kid' is a word for a baby goat. It's about respect. We try and teach our Norlanders that children deserve to be treated with respect, and using the proper word for them, which is 'children,' is part of that."

Additionally, Norland nannies are taught to avoid vocabulary that could be categorized as "baby talk" when speaking to young children. As Gaskell told The Telegraph: "We also ask Norlanders to use the proper words for things — so instead of saying 'moo cow' say 'cow.'" This means that Prince William and Catherine most likely tried to show their children respect by avoiding the phrase 'kids' and abstaining from any sort of baby talk.

Princess Catherine recognizes that not all children have the same needs

Princess Catherine's parenting style may seem rigid sometimes. However, the mother of three understands that she has to parent each of her children a bit differently. On an official visit to the youth empowerment charity, Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, Catherine spoke to Dame Kelly herself about the importance of giving every child precisely what they need. 

Reflecting on this fascinating conversation, Kelly told the Daily Mail: "I asked her, I said you've got three children and do you see different traits in them?" Apparently, Catherine responded: "Oh yes!" Kelly shared that the princess has learned a lot about catering to each child's diverse needs by raising three young people with different personalities. "That's the thing," Kelly explained. "It's like learning how to handle the different traits and different needs and abilities even with three young children shows her the need to do it with masses of children."

Of course, it is important to remember that, as a royal mother, Catherine has to give her children extra support in some areas. This has been especially true as Princess Charlotte has discovered that Prince George is the heir to the throne and she is the spare. One royal insider told New Idea Magazine that Catherine "has seen what happened to the last two 'spares' and is not letting Charlotte go down the same path" (via GoodtoKnow). Thus, the princess has given Charlotte plenty of extra love. 

The princess wants her kids to express physical affection

Buckingham Palace can seem like a cold place, but Princess Catherine wants her kids to know that it is okay to hug it out. The princess made this message clear during a 2018 official engagement at Basildon Sporting Centre when a royal fan, Janet Emery, gave Catherine a hearty embrace. In the moment, onlookers did not know how Catherine was going to react to this unusual greeting. After all, protocol dictates that people lower their heads when introduced to Catherine and her husband, Prince William. However, the princess surprised the crowd by hugging Emery back. Turning towards the royal fan, Catherine shared that hugging is something that she has tried to prioritize with her children. "Hugs are very important. That's what I tell my children," she said (via Hello!).  

Fascinatingly, Catherine's support of hugging contradicts rumors that the princess is not one for physical affection. In 2022, her sister-in-law, Meghan Markle, appeared on the Netflix special, "Harry & Meghan," and alleged that Catherine was not much of a hugger. "When Will and Kate came over, and I met her for the first time, they came over for dinner, I remember I was in ripped jeans and I was barefoot. I was a hugger. I've always been a hugger, I didn't realize that that is really jarring for a lot of Brits.," Meghan claimed (via BBC News). 

Catherine has to protect her kids from the media

While many aspects of Princess Catherine's parenting style could easily be adopted by everyday families, that certainly isn't true for all of it. Indeed, Catherine faces the unique challenge of raising royal children, who attract quite a bit of media attention. As a result, the princess has had to adopt certain strategies to help ensure that her children get as much privacy as feasibly possible. 

In the past, this has meant planting large hedges around the Kensington Palace garden as a way to guarantee that Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis are able to play in their own backyard without being photographed. On other occasions, Catherine and her husband, Prince William, also managed to enlist the help of the government to issue temporary No-Fly zones over their various residences. These measures prevent British tabloids from taking pictures of the Waleses children by flying airplanes or helicopters over any one of their homes. 

Shortly following Charlotte's birth in 2015, William and Catherine also asked their neighbors at Sandringham Estate to help keep their kids safe from the media. As reported by the BBC, the couple sent everyone in their neighborhood a letter, which stated: "There have in the past been a number of intrusions into the privacy of the Royal Family which in the main have been as a result of professional photographers using long-distance lenses." The couple then politely hinted that they would expect discretion with regard to their privacy.