Keys to Mindful Parenting
What in your view is the most important gift we can give our children? Some would say it is the gift of time. That certainly- however we also need to be fully present in the moment for them. What typically happens though is that we contend with myriad issues- short attention spans, temptation to peer into our gadgets, worries about the future and regrets from the past. All of these tend to take away a lot from the parent-child relationship. That really is the premise of mindful parenting- being fully present in the moment for the child and to bring a sense of openness and wisdom to our moments with our children.
When we do practice mindful parenting we can help understand and address the deeper needs of our children instead of responding to them at the surface level alone.
This, however, will typically be achieved when we have done some “inner work” and have developed some amount of self-compassion and acceptance for our own selves.
Here are some handy tips that will help you in your mindful parenting journey:
- Establish a mindfulness practice
Mindful parenting begins with your ability to be present in the moment. For this, it is necessary that you establish a practice for your own self, wherein you just live in the moment. Simply sit for 10 to 15 min every day and observe your breath. Each time the mind wanders, bring your awareness back to your breath. Over time, what this will help you to do is to actively notice any stress that you may be feeling and bring yourself to the present moment. The practice will go a long way in bringing your best self to the child and to parenting.
- Recognize your emotional triggers
Managing your own emotions & behavior is really the key to teaching children how to manage theirs. In order to feel a sense of control over your emotions, however, what is important is that you recognize the triggers that bring about an emotional reaction in you. Picture this situation- each time your child goes to the playground you are worried sick that the child will hurt himself. Sure enough, the child comes back with a wounded knee and voila it brings a huge emotional reaction from you, which isn’t just unwarranted but also really scares the child. Delve on it and you will find that the reaction is because you broke your arm while in the playground and that has become a painful memory for you. Mindful parenting demands that we bring more awareness to our unmet needs, hurts, fears else they stand the risk of being projected to our children. A lot of this will be achieved if we are able to set down some healthy boundaries and realize that children are separate and can be quite different from us.
- Respond not React
An important aspect of mindful parenting is also to be able to find a calm space in stressful situations. When you find emotions getting the better of you, you need to pause and immediately focus on the changes in your body. By reminding yourself to breathe and bringing your thoughts to the present moment, you can make the conscious decision of responding and not reacting to the situation. Mindful parenting also requires that you be able to listen to (and not just hear) the child’s point of view, even when you do not agree with it. The idea is to stay mindful through the times that the child ‘s behavior pushes some buttons, to notice your emotions but not to act on them.
From perfect to good enough parenting
Despite our best efforts, it is okay for us to fail at times and for the child to witness some inevitable moments of imperfection. Positive parenting doesn’t in any way mean to hold up an ideal version of parenting that is hard to live up to. Instead, we need to consciously let go of unrealistic expectations and accept ourselves as we are. That is the only way, we can, in turn, offer unconditional love to the child.
In fact, with some effort, we can turn our fail points into coachable moments to discuss failures, compassion, authenticity and more with the child in an age-appropriate manner.
Here’s to a journey where we come home to our authentic selves and to our children!