What Is Mindful Parenting? Here's A Complete Guide For All Parents
We've also included tips to help you better yourself as a more mindful parent.
There is a variety of parenting styles out there, each with their own pros and cons. One of them takes a different approach to the more traditional styles of parenting: Mindful parenting. Before we answer the question, "what is mindful parenting?", you first need to understand more about its core tenet - mindfulness.
Nowadays, life is hectic. Everyone, especially parents, has multiple commitments: career, kids, their own parents, and so much more. It's not unusual, then, to rush through things thinking about what to do next. A familiar scenario would be to think about how many chores you have waiting for you at home; while talking with your colleague, or thinking about work on a Sunday.
Mindfulness takes away this "mental multi-tasking". You're fully immersed in the life you're living, and focus on, the present moment as it unfolds. It's different from worrying about things that happened in the past or what you need to do in the future. Becoming mindful needs your vulnerability in telling yourself that everything is and will be alright. So, slowing down will make you more self-aware of what you're thinking and feeling.
For many, meditation helps them train themselves to make themselves more mindful.
Mastering mindfulness, however, does bring many benefits, including better sleep, increased communication between the family. In fact, teaching your kids mindfulness could help reduce violent behaviour in the future, too.
What is mindful parenting, then?
If you're wondering "what is mindful parenting?", know that mindfulness can also play a part in parenting. The main aim of instilling mindfulness into parenting is to enhance the experience of interacting with your child.
How? By completely concentrating your attention towards them. Not what tonight's dinner plan is, or if your child refused to eat his vegetables last night. The difficulty is in practising it. One study might have the answer as to how you can do this. The study attempted to link how parents apply mindfulness in their lives and their children's general wellbeing.
Justin Parent, the lead author of the study, discovered three characteristic behaviours essential to mindful parenting, which are:
- Observing what you feel if you argue with your child;
- Halting your actions momentarily before retorting angrily;
- and being attentive to what your child has to say - even if you are against it.
Should you aim to be practice mindful parenting all the time?
Although the answer may first appear to be "Yes!", it's not practical. Everyone is only human - with things they can still improve on. Being a parent isn't easy either, since it's such an emotional job.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, a professor emeritus of medicine in America, in trying to answer the question, "what is mindful parenting?", says that:
“Mindful parenting is not about being a yogi or practicing Buddhism; it’s about being human and realizing that we have more options than we may think in any moment, no matter what is happening.”
So remember to always pause - even just for a second - before lashing out at your kids. It could change everything.
What are the benefits of mindful parenting?
Clearly, being able to stay calm in the face of anger does have its benefits, especially if you've regretted losing your temper with your child.
Here are some of the benefits of mindful parenting.
- Reduced anxiety, depression and rebelling in children. After analysing their study, Justin and his team found that mindful parenting acted like dominoes. Parents who used mindful parenting techniques displayed increased favourable and less critical parenting behaviour. In turn, these traits were associated with better behaviour in children.
- Less drug use in kids. In another study, Caitlin Turpyn and Tara Chaplin of Mason University sought to understand how mindful parenting affected parent-child relations. Their results showed that parents who used mindful parenting often displayed reduced hostile emotions and increased optimistic emotions between both parent and child compared to parents who didn't. The positivity between both the parent and their child connected to less drug use in children - but not sexual behavior.
- Helps to make the relations between both the parent the child last.
- Encourages good behaviour through being a good role model. By handling conflicts less instinctively, kids will be able to understand and imitate how to cope with them.
- Allows you to be better equipped to handle situations. Parenting comes with a host of challenges, and mindful parenting lets you respond less emotionally and instinctively. Instead, becoming conscious of what you're thinking and feeling can help you react more fittingly. And then, you are more unflustered and in-control when your relationship with your child seems strained.
What is mindful parenting? Tips for applying it to your parenting
The simplest version is to sit at the same place and time each day for 5-30 minutes - and just pause. Slowing down will let you become more aware as you breathe and helps you feel the body functioning. Your mind will produce thoughts that go astray, but don't worry about it. Once you are aware of this phenomenon, just don't think. Instead, release the chatter. You'll be able to concentrate on your breaths and body functioning - which is key to living the 'now'.
Parents nowadays are often handling everything and overwhelmed by life in general. This reduces the chances of showing our "best selves" when we communicate with our kids.
As you become more mindful by practising meditation as outlined before, you'll notice that eventually, you can trace and observe stresses in your daily routine.
Most parents have unrealistically high expectations of themselves, striving to become a "perfect" parent. Mindful parenting argues the contrary: it doesn't berate you for your mistakes; instead, it accepts that you are "good enough" as you are.
Mindful parenting takes into account that no matter what our best intentions are, there will be times where we slip up. Having flaws and encountering failure is just another inevitable part of being human.
More tips for practising mindful parenting...
4. Respect your kids as they are
Children seek approval for being themselves as individuals when their parents are out of the picture. Of course, that doesn't mean you should give them unlimited control over their lives. But it's best to accept them for who they are and not force your expectations, insecurities, unfinished tasks and botched dreams onto them.
As parents, it is our responsibility to be true to ourselves as it is to respect kids for who they are, instead of giving them additional burdens.
5. Be kind and promote compassion in your actions
Parenting - it's not easy, with a flurry of ups and downs. There are times when your child may disappoint or betray your expectations. It is only at these moments where we must foster compassion and affection towards ourselves, as the emotional scars can leave us feeling hollow and hateful.
In essence, everyone in some sense is searching to be loved. Mindful parenting allows us to love ourselves as individuals by removing unrealistic demands, as well as respond accordingly to our kids.
However, our kids are a blank slate - so mindful parenting has to come from the parent before they can learn it and pass it on towards the next generation.
Do you practice this form of parenting? Let us know!
Also read: 7 Parenting Tips For New Moms Of Multiples