Mindful parenting involves bringing our full attention to the present moment. But is there more to it?
I see a lot of confusion around what mindful parenting is and what it isn't.
Although there are no strict guidelines for mindful parenting, there are some qualities of it that we can incorporate in our parenting right this day.
Here are the 5 qualities of mindful parenting.
1) Listening with full attention
Do you know that feeling when someone listens to you to understand? Versus that other person who listens to you to correct, judge, ignore or give advice.
Listening with full attention involves directing awareness to our children's total communication. Mindful parents are sensitive both to the content of conversations and their child’s tone, voice, facial expressions, and body language. This kind of listening helps parents read behavioral and communication cues more accurately.
2) Non-judging acceptance of self and child
Our mind is skilled at making subconscious judgements. Non-judging acceptance includes noticing our biased opinions of our children and ourselves. It allows us to have a fuller understanding of our child's traits, attributes, and behaviors, even if we don't like what we see.
This, however, does not mean that mindful parents do not discipline or coach their children. It rather means acceptance of what's happening in the present moment and providing children with clear and realistic expectations based on their developmental level.
3) Emotional awareness of self and child
Parenting is majorly influenced by intense emotions and our regulation of them. Strong emotions have immense power in igniting automatic reactions that are likely to harm our relationships.
We can only listen with full attention and non-judging acceptance if we correctly identify the emotions of our children and ourselves.
By noting that feelings are just feelings that come and go, we can get better at tolerating strong emotions, in turn, helping us become more present.
4) Self-regulation in the parenting relationship
Mindful parenting is not about disregarding or suppressing strong (as some might call, negative) feelings. Neither does it imply that mindful parents never experience the impulse to act upon their emotions.
Mindful parenting involves pausing before reacting to strong emotions. This way, the parent can choose between several options for a rational response. This is the most basic form of self-regulation.
The way we express our own emotions and respond to our children's emotions influences how our children handle their emotions. Research has found that parents who are tolerant and supportive of emotional expressions help their children become more competent, both emotionally and socially. Also, learning to label, express, and process emotions early on creates strong self-regulation skills in our children.
5) Compassion for self and child
Parents are the most hostile critics of themselves. Through compassion for ourselves and our children, we can intend to comfort distress rather than harshly criticizing it because compassion, by definition, is the "desire to alleviate suffering."
Mindful parents avoid blaming themselves or their kids even when they feel like a "failed" parent. When we avoid self-blame, we can get back on track with our parenting goals a lot more easily.
A healthy parent-child relationship starts with the right parenting mindset.
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