Have you been hearing the term “mindful” recently? There are multiple podcasts and blogs available to help guide you in being a mindful person. But will being a mindful person lead to being a mindful parent?
A Study About Mindful Parenting
In January 2016 the results from a study, conducted in Vermont, were published. This study was looking for a relationship between how mindful a parent was and the effects on the children.
The study was comprised of 615 participants. The participants were all parents whose children’s aged ranged from 3-17.
The study found that although some parents had traits of being mindful individuals, that did not necessarily mean better outcomes for their children. However, the parents who practiced mindful parenting did see better outcomes. The study found that mindful parenting led to more positive behaviors in children across all ages.
What is Mindful Parenting?
Mindful parenting differs from being a mindful person. Being a mindful parent means you are present in the moment, aware of your own feelings, and an active listener.
Habits of Mindful Parents
Be Present in the Moment
Today we are constantly checking in and checking out with the world, using the devices at our fingertips. But we are not necessarily present in the moment in front of us.
A mindful parent is there in more than just the physical sense. The mindful parent doesn’t sit on the park bench on their phone. They are there playing on the playground equipment with their child. Engaging with their child.
The mindful parent is not anticipating or thinking about where they will go next or what they have to do that evening. You want to stop and smell the roses with your children. When your child says “wow” you are there looking and saying “wow” too.
A good first step to being mindful would be participating in a nightly story time in your home. Give your child and the moment all of your attention. Enjoy the story together.
Own Your Feelings
A mindful parent will understand and own their feelings. When your child is throwing a temper tantrum you may get embarrassed or angry. However, that is your feeling. It is not your child’s feeling.
To be mindful as a parent you need to own that feeling. That feeling of embarrassment or anger stems from within you and needs to be dealt with on your own.
Once you understand and have dealt with your feeling, you should be feeling calm. When you are calm you are able to view the temper tantrum from a different perspective. When a child is throwing a temper tantrum they are feeling big feelings that they need you to validate. However, if you are feeling angry or embarrassed then you are not able to guide them through their feelings and into a calm state of mind.
Being an active listener does not mean you simply ask your child how their day was and listen to the response. An active listener is completely engaged. You are fully present in the moment, free from your own thoughts and feelings, and hearing the other person.
When a parent is actively listening they are allowing the child to express their thoughts, feelings, and emotions fully. They are not shutting the child down.
When children cry a mindful parents response is not to ask why they are crying or to tell them that there is no reason for them to be crying. A response such as that is often a parent projecting their own emotional response to the crying onto the child.
Instead, you should remain calm and allow the child to cry. Let the child know that it is okay to cry and to feel that emotion. As the child calms down you can then try to work with the child to help them understand what they are feeling that led to that emotional response.
Being A Mindful Person
Being a mindful person and being a mindful parent are not the same. However, practicing mindfulness in your daily life may help you be a more mindful parent. I would encourage you to set aside a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness within yourself.
Once you have established a few minutes a day to practice mindfulness, you can choose some activities, such as story time, and moments of your day to practice being a mindful parent.
Be A Mindful Parent
It is never too early or too late to start working on being a mindful parent. Three of the habits that you can start working on today would be being present in the moment, owning your feelings, and actively listening.
Being a mindful parent will lead to more shared positive emotions between you and your child(ren). Research has shown better outcomes in children that experience a greater amount of shared positive emotions with their parent(s).
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Till next time…
Brooke has been helping families as a board-certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, since 2007. Prior to that, she spent 4+ years working as a Registered Nurse in both pediatric and postpartum nursing.
Brooke holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of Science in Nursing. Additionally, she is dual-licensed in her state as both an APRN and RN.