Mindfulness is defined as being present and paying attention on purpose and non-judgmentally to what is going on around you. Mindful parenting takes mindfulness a step further by having you, as a parent, pay attention to both yourself and your parenting, on purpose and in the moment. For parents, this involves listening to your child with your full attention, being aware of your child’s emotions and your emotions, learning to regulate/control your responses during stressful situations and having compassion for yourself and your child when things don’t go as you planned.
Children who engage in mindfulness activities are better able to regulate emotions and calm down when upset, have improved attention and focus, and improved social skills and confidence.
The following are just a few ideas on how to bring mindfulness into your daily lives:
Take a mindfulness walk
Get outside to explore with all of your senses. Describe to your child what you see around you, what you feel (the warmth of the sun/raindrops), what you smell and what you hear. Ask your child to do the same.
At your next meal or snack time with your child, slow down to really enjoy your food together. How does your food smell? What is the texture like? How does it taste? How is it different from the other foods they have on their plate?
Aim for 5 minutes of daily “special time”
Use this time to practice being present with your child. Let your child pick the activity and take the lead. NO SCREENS. Avoid asking questions and directing play. Observe your child’s facial expressions and body language. What are they feeling? Listen and pay attention to what they are saying and doing.
Practice breathing together
Have your child get comfortable and practice taking slow, deep breaths. You can use bubbles to practice breathing, and tell your child, “Let’s blow away the sad/angry.” If you want they can lie down and place a small toy or stuffed animal and watch it rise and fall on their tummy as they breathe in and out.
Talk about different emotions with your child
Name your child’s emotions if they are unable to. Describe how you are feeling out loud. If your child is not using words for their emotions yet, find pictures in books or photographs to help them identify how they are feeling.
When the going gets rough: Take a parenting time out
STOP. Take five deep slow, deep breaths. Observe what is going on non-judgmentally. Pay attention to both your child’s and your own emotions and reactions. Assess what will be effective. Proceed.