The practice of mindfulness has gained popularity in the field of Psychology as a practice for improving well being, health, and managing stress and anxiety. Mindfulness requires you to be fully present in the moment, attentive to your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Parenting can benefit from this mindful approach as well.
Parenting comes with endless responsibilities and ongoing challenges and transitions.
It’s no surprise that the emotional climate in families is affected by today’s over-scheduled and hectic culture. So what does mindfulness mean in the context of parenting?
It means that you bring your conscious attention to what’s happening, instead of getting hijacked by your emotions. In doing this, you are allowed to choose your response to your child from a place of clarity, control, calmness and patience as opposed to lashing out.
If you are struggling with managing and responding to your child’s strong emotional or behavioral outbursts, consider learning more about the practice of mindful parenting.
The following concepts can help get you started:
- Notice your own feelings when you are in conflict with your child and mindfully manage your stress. Incorporate the STOP acronym each time.
- Stop. Whenever you notice stress or imbalance, simply pause in awareness.
- Take a breath. Bring your awareness to your breathing.
- Observe . Just notice how the breath begins to naturally bring balance to the systems of the body.
- Proceed. Having shifted to a more mindfully responsive mode, take action by not responding in anger, frustration, fear or anxiety.
- Make space daily for just being. Simply sit for 5-20 minutes, at the same time and place, mentally abandoning distractions, activity, pressures and demands. Take notice of your body and any tension it’s holding.
- Let go of perfection. Parents often hold themselves to a higher standard than is healthy, striving to be the “perfect” parent. Mindful parenting embraces the reality and wisdom of the “good enough” parent, acknowledging that regardless of your best intentions, moments of imperfection and failure are unavoidable.
By bringing mindfulness into parenting you become more aware of yourself, more in tune with the needs of your child, and the opportunity to respond with intention rather than getting mindlessly caught up in and reactive to surface behaviors.
Written By: Michelle Rathburn, LAMFT