Parenting…can be one of the most difficult jobs as well as the most fulfilling one. Parents are individuals who shoulder this immense responsibility of bringing up children, who are not only healthy in body but also healthy in mind. After all, children are the future of the world.
In order to have healthy-minded children, it is important that parents are healthy-minded as well. Children are reflections of their parent’s words, actions and behaviours. Mindfulness, in simple words, means being in the here-and-now, being aware of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment without worrying about the past or the future.
What is Mindful Parenting?
You must have heard this saying “You can’t pour from an empty cup”. It is very essential that parents first take care of their mental health, only then they can raise healthy-minded children. Mindful parenting means being aware of what influences your own emotions, feelings and behaviours rather than projecting them onto your children. Managing your own emotions and behaviours teaches your child to manage theirs. Mindful parenting is the key to raise children to be better adults.
Why Mindful Parenting is the need of the hour?
The coronavirus pandemic has brought unexpected challenges in our lives. It has been difficult not only for adults but for children as well. The pandemic situation has added more stress to parenting responsibility. Mindful parenting is the absolute need of the hour as it will help in raising children who are more resilient in handling adverse situations effectively.
How to MINDFULLY parent your child?
- Listen, be present in the moment: One of the common mistake parents tend to make is they fail to listen and be patient with their children. You need to listen to what your child is saying, no matter how silly you find it. Come down to their level of understanding and be present with them in that moment, keeping aside your busy life.
- Self-awareness: Being self-aware is extremely important because when you have a better understanding of yourself, you are empowered to make changes and to build on your areas of strength as well as identify areas where you would like to make improvements.
- Emotional stability: Your emotions are so powerful that they influence your thoughts, decisions, and actions. Being emotionally stable simply means not let your conscious or unconscious emotions take control of you and get the better of you. You can handle your emotions well by bringing them to your conscious mind and dealing with them effectively. Emotional stability helps you think and analyse the situation better, allowing you to come up with a solution.
- Identify emotional triggers: An emotional trigger is can be a painful memory, past experiences, or any event that fuels an intense emotional reaction, regardless of your current mood. These triggers cause us to react in negative ways because of the pain attached to the past experience. Be mindful about what you are feeling and identify if there is any past pain that is influencing your emotions or behaviours.
- Choose your words wisely: Your words can have a huge impact on your child’s mental wellbeing and they become the foundation of their overall growth. Show respect to your child. Choose kind and positive words when talking to your child, as your words will become their reality.
- Validate feelings: Every human has the gift of feeling different emotions. Validate those feelings even if they are not pleasant ones. Your feelings and emotions tell you a lot about yourself and it will tell you a lot about your child as well. Validate them and treat them responsibly.
- Respond, don’t react: Every problem you encounter while parenting requires an appropriate response, rather than a reaction. A common error made by most parents. Reactions often come when we feel frustrated and are unable to handle our own self. They can be often harmful to the child’s mental growth. Replace your reactions by responding to the problem in a calmer manner. If you feel you have reacted negatively, apologise to your child. Children learn to apologise for their mistakes if adults do the same.
- Give choices: Parents often choose and decide everything for their children. They take away the power of letting their child make a choice. Choices can help children in improving their self-esteem, decision making and problem-solving ability. Children feel in control when they are allowed to make choices for themselves.
- Realistic vs unrealistic expectations: Be more realistic with the expectations that you keep from your child. It is the child who bears the burden of parent’s unrealistic expectations. This burden weighs them down, puts pressure on them and that can hamper their overall mental health,
- Meditation & grounding: Meditation and grounding are the most useful tools to practice mindfulness. Grounding is a therapeutic technique that involves doing activities that “ground” or bring you back to the present and stops you from worrying about the past or the future. (You can read more on it online)
Mindfulness is like a superpower, something every individual should practice.
As a parent, your undivided attention is the greatest gift you can ever give your children, and mindful parenting is a way to achieve that. As a psychologist, I have worked with many parents helping them to adopt mindful parenting techniques and those who have learned to slow things down, step back and observe their own reactions, which in turn gave them perspective to effectively restructure their family functioning. We are all rushing and hustling in this ever-fast changing world. Take some time to pause, reflect and contemplate on your thoughts, feelings and emotions. You will realise there is much more to rediscover within yourself than to discover what’s outside in the world.