In light of all the chaos which life throws at you today, how can you be effective in mindful parenting? Do you really have the time to listen to some impractical, idealistic, and far-from-reality talk about mindful parenting?
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What is mindfulness?
Firstly, mindfulness is the practice of living in the moment. It is the awareness that emerges through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment. You’ll also be non-judgmental to unfolding a moment-by-moment experience.
Mindfulness is a state of mind that allows you to be fully aware of the present moment. In other words, it’s a state of being present and fully engaged with whatever you’re doing at the moment, maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of your thoughts.
You accept your feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations, and your surrounding environment without judging them. In other words, you observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad. For example, you don’t believe that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment.
By being mindful, you’re aware of where you are in the world, how you’re feeling on the inside and out, and what you’re thinking.
Mindfulness is a good thing. It’s about looking at your world with more acceptance and less judgment. The idea of bringing your awareness to the present moment is the core of meditation that’s been studied and practiced for many years.
You should practice mindfulness meditation because it has psychological, physiological, and social benefits. It will help you to reduce anxiety and depression and increase your coping mechanisms for dealing with stress.
When you are mindful, you know your actions and reactions and the emotions from which these actions are stemming. You are also attentive to your surroundings.
While practicing mindfulness, your thoughts tune into what you’re sensing in the present moment, rather than dwelling in the past or imagining what will happen in the future.
Mindfulness is therefore a mindset that allows you to attend to your worries as and when they arise, instead of carrying them around with you wherever you go.
So what’s mindful parenting?
Mindful parenting is a fundamental parenting skill or practice which proposes fostering everyday mindfulness in the context of parenting. Parent training is an important channel for improving the effectiveness of parenting interventions.
Mindful parenting is the idea of being fully present with your child. An awareness that’s free from distractions or judgment with a soft and open mind.
Providing such undivided attention means that you’re more attentive, aware, kind, and understanding in your interactions with your child.
Mindful parenting will help you to foster a healthy parent-child relationship and improve family-focused preventive interventions that will be beneficial during your child’s transition to adolescence.
It allows you to you engage with your child in the present moment and not let your emotions or trauma from your past or fear of the future affect your reactions.
You may still respond with anger or frustration, but your response comes from a more informed place rather than a purely automatic one.
Mindful parenting means responding thoughtfully to your child’s behaviors or actions versus simply reacting to them. You work to have acceptance for your child and, in turn, acceptance for yourself.
Your behavior will focus on setting an ongoing intention to be present at the given moment. This presence can take many forms.
- pay attention to your child
- notice your own feelings whenever you’re in conflict with him or her
- listen to your child’s viewpoints, even if they differ from your own
- pause before responding to them.
Nurturing your relationship in this way will help strengthen the bond you have with your child. It will also help your child in dealing with his or her own emotional, learning, or behavioral problems.
Mindful parenting really works
Mindful parenting is an effective tool for you as a parent, especially when you’re feeling challenged by your child’s attitudes or behavior.
Right now, it’s already hard on you to handle parenting, cooking, teaching, working from home, and cleaning without getting frustrated.
Even without the coronavirus pandemic messing things up, life was already difficult. You work under lots of mental pressure that comes with just being alive as a parent.
There are numerous physical constraints you face every day. If you’re stuck at home with your kids during the pandemic, it makes parenting more challenging.
Being a mindful parent might seem like a high bar at this time. The idea of going through the day thinking about how you’re going to be mindful may be daunting.
The key to mindful parenting is breaking down your day into manageable chunks of tasks, moving forward task by task. In doing so, you gradually train your mind to be more present.
In being more present, you experience more calm, clarity, and a renewed sense of perspective. When this happens, you’ll have room for increased compassion and empathy as a parent.
Mindful parenting is having a mindset where you expand the positive vibes and higher intelligence that comes with mindfulness to your children. This parenting mindset takes your foundational operation of mindfulness and builds upon it.
While being mindful allows you to understand your perspectives and reasons behind them, practicing mindful parenting prompts you to show the same level of presence and awareness towards your kids, their needs, and their surroundings.
You don’t only have to see your kids, but you also have to listen to them and actually hear them. You also have to understand them with acceptance and non-judgment.
Practicing mindful parenting prompts you to change the way you process auditory, visual, and other cues before making your response to these cues.
A mindful parenting approach involves pausing so that you can be attuned to your child’s deeper needs. For example, is your child crying because they are hungry, sleepy, scared, or something else?
When you take the time to process this in an open-minded, non-judgmental way, you’ll be able to respond to him or her in an appropriate and loving manner.
Key factors of mindful parenting
Mindful parenting focuses on three main key factors:
- Your awareness and attention to the present moment
- intentional understanding of your child’s behavior
- Being non-judgmental, compassionate, and accepting in your response.
Skills required for mindful parenting
For effective mindful parenting, you have to possess certain skills. Here are some tips that will help you to be more present in your children’s lives:
Non judgmental acceptance
The goal of non-judgemental acceptance is the acceptance of “what is”. You should approach a situation without judgment for your feelings or your child’s feelings.
Learn to let go of unrealistic expectations of your child. Mindful parenting is more than a mindset. It should be your lifestyle as a parent.
Active listening requires more mental effort than just listening. Again, you have to be attentive during the listening process, and attend to the child in front of you.
You should truly listen and observe your child with your full attention. This may take a tremendous amount of patience and practice.
You have to simultaneously attend to the verbal and non-verbal dialogue of your child non-judgmentally. You’ll also attend to the background emotions and events that led to the talk with your child.
You may disagree with their opinion. But do it after understanding their opinion deeply.
When their opinions differ from yours
So, how can you understand your child’s opinion, especially if it doesn’t align with your own beliefs?
You can do so by keeping an open mind and attitude towards your differences. If you’re mindful, you’ll easily tell where you’re analyzing your child’s opinion against your perceptions.
Acceptance is part of listening and seeing your child. They have their own personality. And that personality may be different from yours. If it does, accept it.
Showing empathy or compassion
You may not agree with your child’s actions or thoughts, but mindful parenting encourages you to have compassion and show empathy. This involves you being understanding of your child’s position in the moment.
Compassion extends to you as a parent as well. This means you won’t be too hard on yourself and learn to lay less blame on yourself if a situation doesn’t turn out as you’d hoped.
Exhibiting emotional awareness
Showing awareness for parenting interactions extends from you to your child and back. When you serve as a good role model of emotional awareness, you’re teaching your child to do the same.
There are always emotions affecting different situations, whether they were formed a long time ago or more recently. Don’t fake your emotions to your child.
Being yourself is what your child needs from you so they’ll learn how to mindfully attend to their own emotions.
If you fake your emotions, you are suppressing them and passing that on to your generations.
Instead, talk about them and get them out of your mind. This allows you to remain in the present.
Where relevant and applicable, express your emotions in front of your child. If they’re negative emotions of anger, fear, or frustration, use words to express them before they linger long enough to turn into behaviors and patterns.
If the emotions are positive, celebrate as openly as they deserve to be celebrated. Involve your family in communicating about these emotions.
Self-regulation code of conduct
By adopting a self-regulation code of conduct, you’ll be able to think before you act, to avoid overreacting in any situation. By so doing, you don’t let your emotions trigger immediate reactions, like yelling or other automatic behaviors.
The pressure of today may mean that you sometimes pour your mental pressure on your family members, including your children.
You may not know how to deal with overwhelming stress and you may have the tendency to transfer it to others. Later, you may spend hours and days shaming yourself for losing control.
And then this shame shouts back at you in the form of people judging you for your parenting skills. You simply may not know how to deal with your outbursts.
Mindful parenting helps you to get rid of your patterns of parent tantrums. You can break the cycle of reactive parenting by choosing to know the history and reasons behind your tantrums and your triggers. Then you can move out of your autopilot parenting mode towards its more empowering version.
This will not only allow you to define a standard for yourself to adhere to in your parenting journey but also prompt you to actually strive to achieve and surpass that standard.
Mindfulness is empowering because it allows you to discipline yourself which, in essence, is the ultimate human power.
Practice Active Learning
It’s easy to embrace distractions in today’s chaotic world. Considering this, you need a constant reminder that prompts you to remain committed to your mindful parenting journey.
Read Mindful Parenting
One such reminder comes from knowing the benefit of mindfulness in your life and in the lives of your children. Sometimes, you may have built your mindset and started trusting your commitment to it, and then life happens!
Suddenly, all that is left with you are past patterns of mindlessness brought back to life.
You can avoid this downward spiral by journaling all the benefits a mindful family lifestyle creates for you and your children. Include your personal experiences in this journal from time to time to create an emotional attachment to them.
Another method to avoid this urge to slip back to your old lifestyle is to follow mindfulness gurus online and in the real world, so you gain inspiration whenever you need it.
Reading about stressors and different family dynamics will also help you to be more prepared for better communication and commitment.
Expand your mindfulness practice
Don’t limit this elixir of happiness within you. Instead, spread it to your family, especially your children.
Why children specifically, you may ask!
It’s because their adaptability allows them to better accept the natural way of living. There are a few routines that once established, will lead to a family-wide mindset of mindfulness.
Mindfulness meditation is just one of those. Journaling is another.
Talking about your emotions and being expressive about opinions is still another tactic that can raise your family’s mindfulness level. The best thing about this technique is your children’s participation and interest in them.
Other child-friendly techniques include playing, reading kids-focused books on mindfulness, and getting out into nature. Doing chores together is another gift of presence you can give to your child, especially if you enjoy doing them.
All of these techniques are great. But they don’t work in families where parents fail to model mindfulness in their dealings with kids and their other interactions.
If you really want to cultivate this mindset among your children, use them in combination with giving each child proper attention and acceptance.
Attract similar people
The last mindfulness tactic which can help you stay afloat in this practice is attracting your kind of people. Not everyone is living life to their fullest.
People try to decrease their mental effort in every possible way. They withhold their attention from any task they remotely think is mundane.
Such people prefer to hide behind screens that promote passive thinking and cognition rather than meeting face to face only because one-to-one meetings require the presence of mind.
Mindful people prefer social interactions. They remain emotionally and mentally available during communications.
If you’re mindful in the presence of others, your attention will prompt other people to be just as attentive.
Mindfulness can be contagious. The same holds true for calmness and content or stress and frustration.
For you as a parent, the benefits of mindful parenting may include reducing stress and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.
A study performed in 2008 explored mindfulness benefits for pregnant women in their third trimester. The women who engaged in practicing mindfulness were found to have much less anxiety and reported fewer instances of negative moods.
Strengthens parent-child relationships
Another study showed that this benefit may extend to the overall well-being of you and your family.
This is because when you add your mindfulness training to an existing parenting program, you’re likely to enjoy a strengthened parent-child relationship.
Enhances a child’s decision-making skills
For kids, mindful parenting may help with social decision-making. There’s a link between decision-making and emotional regulation.
So, the understanding and acceptance of emotions that mindful parenting promotes may help your kids to work on this important life skill from a very tender age.
May help reduce abuse
Mindful parenting may help reduce potential mistreatment such as physical abuse.
A study done in 2007 showed lower occurrences of child abuse among parents who practiced different mindfulness strategies.
In addition, their parenting attitudes also improved as well as child behavior issues.
Other benefits of mindful parenting:
- improves parent-child communication
- makes your parenting job feel as if it takes less effort
- lessens stress and anxiety for you and your child
- lowers feelings of depression
- lessens aggression
- reduces symptoms of hyperactivity in your child
- improves parenting satisfaction
- promotes more parental involvement overall
What to do in a hectic moment
If you find yourself in a stressful and hectic moment, try the following:
- Stop and pause
- Take a few deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose and out slowly through your mouth.
- Focus your mind on taking deep breathes and exhaling slowly. As you do this, feel your muscles soften and relax.
- Observe – notice and pay attention with curiosity to your thoughts, emotions, and sensations.
- Acknowledge your anxiety, fear, or annoyance, or whatever is your challenge. However, don’t let it overwhelm you.
- Procced and return to whatever you were doing. Respond to your child from a clearer, calmer mental state.
By acknowledging your challenges, you’re not trying to make your feelings go away. You’re merely observing them without acting on them.
In doing this, you give yourself some perspective to keep you in the moment on an ongoing basis.
When you’re out and about, you can remind yourself to bring your attention back to your body and back to your physical surroundings. This will help root you to the present moment.
Mindfulness is a forgotten art. The invasion of technology in your home and poor work-life balance only worsens the situation.
However, you can still claim your power to be mindful in your life. There are various aids you can use to bring this bliss into your life.
These can be categorized into individual-focused or family-focused. Mindful parenting is a lifestyle that focuses on improving your family life and your relationship with your kids.
Unsurprisingly, you need to be mindful first before you can be a mindful parent. When you translate the concept of mindfulness to your parenting style, you’ll shift from intrapersonal communication to interpersonal communication with your child.
Remember to do this, you must know the basics of mindful communication – empathy, respect, acceptance, and non-judgment.
The benefits of this parenting style are remarkable. After all, mindful parents are known to raise mindful children.
Your child will be raised to become content, confident, independent, and compassionate. On top of all this, they will showcase a higher level of emotional intelligence which is directly influenced by their level of mindfulness.