Do you have little ones at home? Do you feel a bit out of control or in need of some help and guidance? Well, you’re not alone. But you might not have the time to read multiple parenting books to get up to speed with the latest parenting strategies and techniques.
At the very same time, mindfulness is becoming an increasingly popular phenomenon, and some people are merging it with their parenting philosophy. This useful strategy might hold the solutions to some of the most challenging problems that parents face today. This article will define what mindful parenting means and outline some key skills that you should focus on developing.
What does it mean to parent mindfully?
Mindfulness, if examined in isolation, is a practice of living in the moment. It means having an awareness of your thoughts, your surroundings, and your internal and external feelings.
Moreover, mindfulness is about viewing your world with a less judgmental attitude and a more accepting one. The concept of bringing awareness to the present moment is at the very core of Buddhist meditation, and it’s been studied and practiced for many centuries.
The concept of mindful parenting has been around since at least 1997. Basically, it applies mindfulness principles to several stressful and chaotic family situations that you may find yourself in.
The main goal of mindful parenting is to respond thoughtfully to your child’s actions and behaviors instead of just reacting to them. You work on being more accepting of your child and, in turn, yourself. Nurturing your relationship with them in such a way may lead to a stronger familial bond and many other benefits.
This doesn’t mean that being a mindful parent will always mean thinking positively. The truth is that parenting is never going to be all sunshine and rainbows, and your children obediently doing everything that you ask without complaining.
Rather, it's about genuinely engaging in the present moment without allowing your emotions or past trauma to color your experience or, more importantly, your reaction. You might still respond with anger or frustration, but it'll come from a more informed place rather than a defensive or aggressive one.
Here are some Key Factors of Mindful Parenting:
Much of the information you’ll find on mindful parenting focuses on the following three things:
- Centering your attention to the present moment and being aware of it.
- Developing an understanding of behavior and intentionality
- An accepting, nonjudgmental, and compassionate attitude and approach.
All this sounds good, but what does it mean, exactly?
To break these down further, we can divide them into the following skills that mindful parenting involves:
- Listening. First and foremost, it's crucial to actively listen and observe with your undivided attention. This may take a significant amount of practice and patience. Listening also extends to your environment. Take in everything – sounds, smells, sights – around you and your children.
- Emotional awareness. Bringing awareness to parenting interactions extends from the parents to their child and then back. Exhibiting emotional awareness is the key to teach your child to do the same. Emotions tend to affect every situation, whether they are latent or conscious.
- Nonjudgmental acceptance. This means approaching each situation without judgment for your own feelings or those of your child. Nonjudgment involves acknowledging things for what they are and letting go of unrealistic expectations of your child. The end goal is an acceptance of "what is."
- Compassion. You might not agree or approve of your child’s actions or thoughts, but mindful parenting encourages you to be compassionate regardless. This includes being understanding and empathetic of your child's position at that moment. Compassion also extends to yourself, as there's ultimately less self-blame and self-pity when things don't turn out as you'd hoped.
- Self-regulation. This means refraining from letting your emotions trigger immediate reactions such as yelling or slamming doors. In other words, it’s taking a pause to think before you act to avoid an overreaction.
Dr. Sharon Fried Buchalter Ph.D., is a distinguished clinical psychologist, life coach, and public speaker who has worked as a Marriage and Family Therapist and clinical social worker. She received the highest accreditation as a board-certified diplomate-fellow in advanced child and adolescent psychology. She has spent her lifetime educating, enlightening and empowering parents and children of all ages.
She has developed revolutionary tools to help couples, parents, and families achieve happiness and success. Her first book Children Are People Too, provides eight essential steps designed to strengthen families and empower parents to be their own child’s life coach and mentor. Her second book New Parents Are People Too, provides relationship advice for couples entering parenthood for the first time.
She is also the founder and owner of Products On The Go. And Little Toes.