Mindfulness has been gaining traction especially in the last 5-10 years as a way of improving individual well-being, from our health to our happiness and resilience, but just recently, I love how its principles have crossed over into parenting. This is a large topic so this week’s blog post will span over two weeks.
This week we’ll focus on what’s mindfulness, its benefits, and why it’s important to incorporate its practices into parenting today.
At its core, it’s giving full attention to what is happening right now...that is being aware of what’s going on inside and outside of you. I know that seems easy to say when as a parent, you’re juggling three different things and one of them is likely a hungry or whiny toddler. How is it possible to give your full attention to just one thing? Mindful parenting is slightly different than mindfulness in general. Mindful parenting is when we pay attention and listen to what our children are saying, becoming aware of their emotions, show compassion toward our children and ourselves.
Research shows that parents who reported being more mindful in your parenting engaged in more positive parenting behavior. The three key factors here are noticing your feelings when you’re in conflict with your child, pausing before responding in anger, and really listening to your child’s needs before disagreeing with it.
But here’s the thing: It’s not about always being happy or smiling a lot as a parent. Not at all! Mindful parenting is more about emotional attunement during the interaction rather than harsh punishments or yelling. Often times, we parents want to do the right thing- be warm, be approachable, be firm, have rules and consequences. All those things provide structure, and children-toddlers, adolescents, and teenagers- all need structure, but we lose our structure in the heat of the moment, i.e. a tantrum, a yelling match, a door slam. That’s where mindful parenting comes in.
What are the Benefits of Mindful Parenting?
Better communication between you and your child(ren)
Improved decision making and problem solving skills
Increased emotional self control
Less anxiety, depression, anger
Those are all the things I always imagined myself being as a parent. Reality has it that parenting is actually really hard, and all of those goals sometimes fall by the wayside in the heat of the moment. We have over three decades of support that shows how much anxiety goes into parenting and those negative emotions only move us further from our parenting goals. The best part about mindful parenting is it helps keep parents connected to their parenting goals.
I know it seems hard... especially for us moms who are the queens of multitasking. We think parenting is somehow sacrificing ourselves for our kids, but you can’t drink from an empty cup. You cant give what you don’t have. If we want to raise happy, confident, balanced, and structured kids then we have to have to work to keep those same elements in our lives.
Next week, we will focus on how to incorporate mindfulness into our every day lives as busy parents!