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Mindful Parenting

By Rebecca S.
From Bliss, Hope & Joy

How do we practice mindful parenting in a chaotic world?

It can be easy to practice mindful parenting and live in the moment when our children are sweetly playing together, or telling us they love us. It’s a lot harder when their behavior tests our patience and frays our last nerve. Name an emotion, be it frustration, anger, boredom, joy, love, or fear, and it’s probably there on the wild ride of parenting. When parenting becomes difficult, it is important to see that these challenges can be turned into opportunities for working with your inner reactivity.

Breath

Our attention is habitually attracted to moments that seem pleasant, fun, or exciting. But what about the times things are less attention-grabbing and more routine? In instances where you want to zone out, bring mindfulness to the breath. When you use attention to experience each breath as a unique and interesting event, you can ripen seemingly repetitive moments of parenting into ones that bring your attention fully back to the present-moment interactions you’re having with your kids.

Listen

Beyond simple reception of words, attentive listening involves being sensitive to the child and cultivating an inner lens of the child’s perspective. This serves as a function for young ones who cannot verbalize words if parents are able to tune in and read their cues. For older children, this involves receptivity to content, tone, expressions, physical language and the like to grasp the underlying meaning or needs. This allows parent-child interactions to be perceived more accurately cognitively and emotionally thus reducing tension and encouraging further self-disclosure.

Feel

If you find yourself at the brink of unproductive anger, you are not a bad parent for losing your patience. This is a perfect time to check back with your internal experience and not act out. Don’t get lost in the drama in front of you—instead, pause and feel into your body’s reactions. Even if the pause is only a millisecond long, giving yourself space is a chance to see the emotion bubbling up and work with it with more awareness. Seeing and feeling the emotion helps avoid the situation from escalating, and it will support you to stay composed in challenging times.

Relax

Spend a few minutes every day doing…nothing. Merely suggesting this seems impossible. But believe it or not, doing nothing can help you refocus, reenergize, and more efficiently go on with the rest of your day. It’s tempting to use your child’s nap time or school day for errands, chores, cooking, cleaning, etc. But what if you carve out a little time that every parent needs but doesn’t get? It doesn’t have to be for long. 2-3 minutes. Wherever it is, make it your space. Maybe it’s the little nook by the kitchen, the top step of the staircase, or the front seat of your car under a shady tree. It really doesn’t matter as long as you can claim it as yours and it helps you to relax.

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