Sometimes even the best of parents become overwhelmed and behave in ways they later wish they hadn’t. One solution that might help is a practice called mindful parenting. This is based on the larger concept of mindfulness, or being fully present in the moment. Such a process can help parents thoughtfully respond to situations, rather than react unthinkingly.
Psychologists say this type of conscious behavior can have a positive impact not only on children who see it practiced, but also on the parents. And it leads to a calmer, more fulfilling relationship between parents and children.
Best of all, it can be adapted to any family and any parenting style.
What is mindful parenting?
Mindfulness is a very simple concept. It teaches individuals to remain centered and in control, responding to what is happening in the moment rather than automatically reacting with anger or impatience.
This may seem an impossibility when the kids are misbehaving or not doing what you want or need them to do. And of course, it takes daily practice: breathing exercises, mindfulness training, and bodily awareness for at least 10 minutes every day.
But the rewards can be well worth the attempt.
Dr. Elisha Goldstein, a Los Angeles psychologist who uses mindfulness in his practice, told the nonprofit Child Mind Institute that mindfulness can change the family dynamic for the better. And it helps calm kids down, too.
“They say, ‘Okay, I can trust my parent to be in control, this is a safe environment.’ And they feel more secure and they thrive.”
Dr. Mark Bertin, a developmental pediatrician, has been offering mindfulness-based stress reduction classes for parents for over 20 years.
He told Child Mind there’s no one right way to do it. The smallest changes can have positive results, he said.
“It’s as simple as practicing paying full attention to our kids, with openness and compassion, and maybe that’s enough at any moment.”
If you believe the practice of mindful parenting would be beneficial to your family, there are numerous books and courses available, both online and in person.