Mindful Parenting

These 8 mindful parenting exercises help parents develop self-compassion. Also includes the 5 A’s to mindful loving and the SBNRR mindful techniques.

Use the “SBNRR” Technique to Handle Stressful Moments Mindfully

  1. Stop: This is the most important step. Instead of becoming wrapped up in the emotion or making an impulse decision, just stop. Decide to take a moment.
  2. Breathe: Take a deep breath. This helps clear your mind, as well as helps physiologically calm down your brain.
  3. Notice: Notice what you’re experiencing on a moment to moment basis. What are you feeling in your body? What emotions are you experiencing? Is it static or is it changing? Does the emotion seem out of proportion compared to the trigger?
  4. Reflect: What’s causing the emotion? Is it the right response? Is a part of you feeling attacked, belittled or threatened? Is there a story to the experience you’re having?
  5. Respond: Think of all the different courses of actions you can take. Consider the kindest, most compassionate way to respond to the situation (even if you don’t take that path.) Finally, make a conscious decision on how to respond.

The 5 A’s To Mindful Loving

ATTENTION refers to be being aware of others, being aware of ourselves and being the focus of someone’s loving attention. Caretakers are often very good at being aware of others, but they are very lacking in being aware of their own needs and wants. In addition, Caretakers don’t expect others to give them loving attention. Too often Caretakers form their primary relationship with someone who expects to get all the attention and give little in return. For many Caretakers, getting attention feels unsafe because the self-focused partner tends to give the Caretaker their attention only when s/he has a complaint, is angry or looking for someone to blame.

ACCEPTANCE means being seen with mercy, love, respect and understanding. In order to be intimate, we have to feel safe, accepted, relaxed and worthy. Are you getting these things in your relationships? If you are feeling anxious, needy, wary, self-conscious or intimidated, you are not receiving the acceptance that you need to function. That lack of acceptance may be coming from others and/or it may be coming from yourself. Acceptance of yourself is what gives you self-confidence, good self-esteem, hope, and deservability. Acceptance from others gives you a sense of stability, safety and calmness.

APPRECIATION is essential to our feeling loved and accepted. Too often we don’t give others the appreciation that would make the relationship feel fulfilling. Acknowledging our gratitude and validating the efforts of others on our behalf cements good relationships. If we feel undeserving or don’t give ourselves appreciation, it can end up being very difficult to give it to others. Most anger, hurt and resentment in relationships comes from a lack of, and a need for, more appreciation. Appreciating yourself and appreciating others makes us feel good and increases our love and connection to others.

AFFECTION comes from the word “affect” or feeling. As humans we need emotional, spiritual and physical affection. Infants who don’t receive affection can die. Affection includes the three keys of attention, acceptance and appreciation, but it also requires some direct behaviors that show us the proof of these things. Affection is often a code word for sex, but there can be sex with no affection whatsoever.

ALLOWING means letting yourself and the other person be who you are. Too many rules, requirements and expectations push us into becoming who others need us to be rather than being ourselves. Allowing means that we don’t try to control the other person, and we don’t allow the other person to control us. We don’t deny the individuality of either person. Allowing has many similarities to acceptance. We don’t try to change the other person’s feelings, or force them into doing things they find intolerable or humiliating, we don’t try to change their personality or beliefs, or blame them or judge them for mistakes or differences. Allowing is the essence of unconditional love.

Self-Compassion Practices for Parents

Exercise 1: How would you treat a friend?

How do you think things might change if you responded to yourself in the same way you typically respond to a close friend when he or she is suffering? This exercise walks you through it.

Exercise 2: Self-Compassion Break

This exercise can be used any time of day or night and will help you remember to evoke the three aspects of self-compassion in the moment you need it most. Also available as an mp3.

Exercise 3: Exploring self-compassion through writing

Everybody has something about themselves that they don’t like; something that causes them to feel shame, to feel insecure, or not “good enough.” This exercise will help you write a letter to yourself about this issue from a place of acceptance and compassion.

Exercise 4: The criticizer, the criticized, and the compassionate observer

In this exercise, you will sit in different chairs to help get in touch with different, often conflicting parts of yourself (the criticizer, the criticized, and the compassionate observer), experiencing how each aspect feels in the present moment.

Exercise 5: Changing your critical self-talk

By acknowledging your self-critical voice and reframing its observations in a more friendly way, you will eventually form the blueprint for changing how you relate to yourself long-term. This exercise will help you learn how to do it.

Exercise 6: Self-Compassion Journal

Keeping a daily journal in which you process the difficult events of your day through a lens of self-compassion can enhance both mental and physical well-being. This exercise will help make self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness part of your daily life.

Exercise 7: Identifying what we really want

Remember that if you really want to motivate yourself, love is more powerful than fear. In this exercise, you’ll reframe your inner dialogue so that it is more encouraging and supportive.

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