Mindful Parenting: Let’s face it. Parenting is hard. Between sleepless nights and frustrating fights between siblings, it will feel like a miracle that you are still sane.
You may be feeling tired, frustrated, and like you are the worst parent in the universe. However, nothing is your fault. It’s not your little one’s fault either.
They act in the way they understand the world. Their world is much simpler than ours.
So, the best thing we can do is try to understand their world, where they are coming from. And this is where mindful parenting comes in handy.
What is mindful parenting?
Before we try to understand mindful parenting, we need to understand what mindfulness means.
What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is at its base, is living in the moment. When you are present in the moment, you notice everything happening around you.
You are aware of what you see, hear, smell, taste, or feel. When you are observant, you naturally become more understanding of your surroundings as well as your inner selves.
Mindfulness has roots in the Buddhist concept of meditation and becoming aware of the five senses. When practiced along with parenting, you get clear results.
Mindfulness is important for your health as well as your kids’ health. Studies have found that kids who had parents that practiced even some aspects of mindfulness were more aware of their own emotions and less likely to fall into too much trouble such as taking drugs, and so on.
Some studies even suggest that mindfulness has a positive impact on pregnant mothers as well. So, mindfulness can give you results even before your child is born.
I’m sure mindful parenting has won you over by now. Among the many parenting styles in our world that include things such as being good listeners, and so on, mindful parenting is a package deal that ensures good mental health for you and your child.
Excited to try this new parenting concept? You won’t regret it. So, how exactly do you incorporate mindfulness into your parenting?
How to parent mindfully?
We all want to be good parents for our children. As parents, it is our dream to see them happy and healthy. However, because of our involuntary emotional responses, they may start feeling confused, fearful, or sad.
How does this happen? Think of the last time you found your child drawing a stick figure on the wall with a crayon.
What did you do? In a moment like this, our natural response will be to get angry, shout, and warn them of something bad that will happen if they do it again.
And just like that, your child is both scared and angry. Unfortunately for them, this is such a common thing. With our stressful lives, we flip out more often than not.
Then, let’s take a look at this same incident mindfully. First, you find your child drawing. Before you think about how expensive it will be to repaint your wall.
Think about what’s happening in your child’s perspective. To him/her, drawing a stick figure on the wall makes perfect sense. They probably feel proud of the idea and simply, happy.
When you scold, you shatter that feeling. So, before you do, understand your child. In his/her perspective, are they doing something worth scolding?
However, after taking their perspective into consideration, remember to think about your emotions as well. Look inward and realize what you feel. You may feel angry and it’s completely normal.
We do not like ruining our walls on a daily basis anyway. But, before you react to your emotions and regret later, stop. Take a deep breath.
You can still stop your child without lashing out and causing emotional distress for both of you.
I hope that this example was an eye-opener for you. There is always a way to solve problems without lashing out or getting angry unnecessarily.
How to practice mindfulness?
You cannot get used to anything without proper practice. Mindfulness too doesn’t come naturally. It is a technique that requires constant practice.
And, if you practice mindfulness long enough, you’ll start seeing immediate results through your child’s good behavior and your improving mental health.
Mindfulness for parents is important. But, how do you start practicing mindfulness?
The first step to practicing mindfulness is to be aware of your stress responses. When you feel a negative emotion such as anger, unhappiness, or fear take over, start by stopping.
Pause what you are doing and look inward. Observe the situation and take in what’s happening around and inside you.
Then, understand the cause of the negative response and act favourably rather than acting according to the negative emotion.
The best example to explain mindfulness is this. During flights, in an emergency, you are advised to put on your oxygen mask first before putting on your child’s oxygen mask.
Even in everyday life, this is true. First, you need to ensure your emotional stability. Then onwards, you can pay attention to your child.
The STOP method to mindfulness goes like this. First, you ‘Stop’. Then you ‘Take a deep breath’ and ‘Observe’ what’s happening.
The best way to do this is to focus on your breath going in and out. Now you can ‘Proceed’.
Incorporate this simple method into your everyday life to practice mindfulness. Other than that, you can also practice mindfulness through tasks that promote awareness of the moment and encourage your mind to focus on right now.
You can also practice meditation to encourage mindfulness. When you meditate, focus on the breath you take. Think about how it goes in and out and how it fills your lungs.
Try to avoid other thoughts that may come to you while trying to focus. Over time, this practice can help you stay more focused on the moment and keep a hold on your emotions.
The best thing about mindfulness-based parenting is that it promotes mindfulness among children as well. So, if you are being mindful, your children would most likely become mindful adults who are more in touch with their emotions.
So, make sure your children participate in your journey to becoming a mindful parent. There are so many videos you can find on YouTube and such other sources. These will offer guidance for meditating and you can try them with your children.
You can also make it a habit to take a walk sometimes and encourage your children to be more in touch with nature.
On these walks, ask them what sounds they hear and what smells they feel. This will help them be more present and aware of what is happening around them.
Mindfulness is an important concept to achieve peace while living in and enjoying the moment. When mindfulness is coupled with parenting, you will become a healthier parent free of stress.
We all want what’s best for our children. And an understanding parent is the best thing a child can have in his/her life. So, learn to appreciate your children and be less reactive when they make mistakes.
Every problem has an answer other than violence and angry reactions. So, for a better environment for you and your child, start practicing mindful parenting today.
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