According to Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Everyday Blessing: The Inner Work of Mindfulness, mindfulness is the awareness that arises from paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, nonjudgmentally. For caregivers, The Gottman Institute has identified that slowing down our thoughts and noticing and focusing on our needs and our child’s needs, the following six benefits of mindful parenting can occur:
Becoming more aware of your feelings and thoughts Becoming more aware and responsive to your child’s needs, thoughts, and feelings Becoming better at regulating your emotions Becoming less critical of yourself and your child Becoming less reactive to situations and avoiding impulsive decisions Improvement in the relationship with your child
“Listen earnestly to anything [your children] want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.” ― Catherine M. Wallace
In Mission:CONTROL!, Joseph’s mom was not expecting the big reaction from Joseph when it was time to turn off the TV. She must have read up on the book listed below in order to be able to keep her calm in the moment of upset, to patiently wait for his big feelings to pass, and to be able to say just the right words to encourage him to process his feelings with her and to help him see himself as a kid ready to take on tomorrow’s challenges. In that moment, something was just too much for Joseph, so he needed to borrow calm from his mom to help him through the upset. How did she have it to share? From taking care of herself first. With mindful parenting, she could choose to be aware of and regulate her own emotions, she could help him learn to regulate his emotions, she could stay connected with him, and she could make the parenting choices she wanted to make.
Start a mindfulness practice. https://simplehabit.com is an app you can try that offers a guided meditation.
To bring about a calmer, happier and healthier family life, here are some ideas parents can try, slowed-down and present:
Notice your own emotions without judgment.
Rather than controlling your environment and children, accept them just as they are.
If something unexpected happens and disrupts the routine, pause to examine your emotions and decide on a plan of action.
In challenging moments, support your child with compassion, grace, and empathy for your child. Watch for opportunities to show gratitude and forgiveness.
Mindfully manage stress by taking a slow, deep breath to and focus on the now.
Look for opportunities in the moment to show kindness and compassion.
Offer attention from the heart in the moment to your child.
Steps to take
Small steps: Think of a time during your day when you can practice mindful parenting e.g. while preparing lunches, when you are playing a board game, when you are tucking in your child at night. Consider inviting a friend to take this step with you and then share what each of you is noticing.
Advanced steps: Take note of moments when you were able to share your calm with your child as a result of taking care of yourself.