Being mindful in our parenting can help us understand ourselves as individuals and as parents, as well as understand our children and build stronger connections with them. It involves being aware of what is happening in the moment, what you and your child are feeling, and what you and your child need right now.
- Recognise that consciously managing your own responses to situations will be more effective in influencing your children’s behaviours than trying to forcefully control your child. Slowing down your reactions and responding more calmly will teach your children how to manage situations more appropriately. We can model emotional regulation, problem solving, and communication skills for our children. This does not mean that we deny uncomfortable emotions. We will feel these emotions – we just bring our attention to them and slow down our reaction so we can choose how to behave.
- Be realistic in your expectations of you child. As adults, it can be easy to forget that little ones are not yet able to do many of the things we take for granted. If you notice either you or your child getting frustrated, irritated, or annoyed, take a moment to check whether your child is able to do the activity at hand or whether he needs some guidance or assistance.
- Try to see the world from your child’s perspective and respect that it may be different from your own. Children’s behaviours give us the best clues at to what is happening for them right now – children feel and act at the same time. It is only as a child matures that he learns to think before acting. So what adults may see as “bad behaviour” is actually a child making sense of the world by exploring, experimenting, and responding. By remaining calm, you will be more able to see the reasons behind your child’s behaviours, and better help your child with the feelings and needs that are driving them.
- Be kind to yourself. Mindful parenting is not about berating yourself for how terrible you are as a parent, or focusing on when you get things wrong. We all get it wrong (alot!!). Remind yourself of the five mindfulness questions in parenting: What is happening with my child in this moment? What does my child feel? What does my child need? What am I feeling? What do I need? Mindful parenting is about focusing on your child’s needs as well as noticing and fulfilling your own needs. Doing something for your own self care makes you a better parent because when your needs are being met, you are more willing and able to meet the needs of others.
Australian Childhood Foundation (2012). Mindful parenting – A Bringing Up Great Kids Resource.http://www.childhood.org.au/