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Three Tips to Foster Mindful Parenting 101
What does it mean to be a mindful parent? It’s tempting to conjure up images of a quiet and even-tempered child sitting cross-legged with a serene parent by their side. In reality, mindful parenting is an active process – and one that does not have to (and should not) wait until you are alone in a quiet, peaceful space. This means that we have the opportunity to be mindful with our children when they’re engaged, and in fact, our children can be our best teachers in these moments. They challenge us to stay grounded in the present moment, no matter what arises.
There are many ways to incorporate mindfulness into parenting. To practice, here are “three Cs” of mindful parenting to help you get started.
Mindfulness offers us the ability to have more control of our emotions. Parenting is stressful, and parents can find themselves in a state of chronic stress in which strong emotions are easily triggered. We have all had experiences as parents where we wish we could rewind the tape and change our reaction. A daily practice of mindful breathing or mindful movement can help us stay in control of our reactions and decrease those instances of losing self-control. And, by modeling self-control, our children will better learn to modulate their own emotions.
As we accumulate instances where we react calmly to our kids, we build a sense of self-efficacy. Self-efficacy can be defined as the belief in our ability to complete a project or see a thing through (like 18-plus years of parenting). It is different than self-esteem, which may come and go with circumstances. Self-efficacy is an internal, enduring belief in our competence. Studies have shown that meditation can increase care-giver self-efficacy.
It would be nice if we could have infinite stores of good-will and compassion for our family members. However, life can deplete our stores of compassion and good will, especially toward those that we are with on a daily basis. This is evident when we go through a rough patch with a spirited child or a willful teenager. Mindfulness helps restore your compassion reserves. By taking time out to reset your nervous system, you will have an easier time having compassion for those around you – even if they are going through a challenging phase.
(Self) Control, Confidence (Self-efficacy), and Compassion. Try practicing these three Cs of mindful parenting as you navigate the often-challenging waters of family life. Remember to have compassion for yourself as well as you practice this. Curiosity and patience will go a long way.