Parenting is never only sunshine and smiles. It is a challenging task especially when you have a stressful life with a lot of work and responsibilities. We all struggle. Fortunately, for the past decades, parenting has been evolving. You’ve heard about mindful parenting and its benefits. “Nurturing your relationship in this way may help strengthen your bond and lead to other benefits” (Healthline). But what are the most effective mindful parenting techniques that you can apply right now?
What is mindful parenting?
The idea of mindful parenting has started to gain momentum since 1997 (Frontiers in Psychology). “The goal of bringing mindfulness to parenting is to respond thoughtfully to your child’s behaviour or actions versus simply reacting. You work to have acceptance for your child and in turn, for yourself” (Healthline).
Does mindful parenting mean a “meditation game” or a “meditation session” with your child? It is not only that though. Planting the seeds of mindfulness in the heart of your children doesn’t realize only that way. Through your own everyday life that is the most effective way. A moment of mindfulness. A caring smile. A mindful meal. A word of understanding… The best mindful parenting techniques come first of all from you. Your own level of mindfulness. Your own being.
This is not only a theory. There is much practice to do. Start by learning a few simple mindful parenting techniques that can help you.
Radiating your own mindfulness
Mindful parenting starts with your own awareness of mindfulness. Radiate your own kindness and presence. This way, you water the seeds of compassion in the heart of your child. You must demonstrate this not only in the relationship with them. Equally important, be mindful of your behaviours towards all people around your children: the other parent, their grandparents, your neighbours, and your friends…
“I remember a time my son had difficulties with his dad. His dad and I did not have a good relationship since we were divorced. I listened carefully to my son’s frustrations. But I also kindly asked him to see deeply into his dad’s behaviours. “You can understand and forgive him”, I said. My child felt that even in conflict, I could understand his dad. He then could also do the same” (A friend of mine)
This is an example of mindful parenting. There is no “trying”. There is just “being”. The way you are demonstrates itself through your children. Just so here is one of the best mindful parenting techniques – Be a mindful person yourself.
Below are a few simple mindful parenting techniques you can train yourself:
- When your child irritates you learn to pause before responding. See more on “how to respond instead of reacting“
- Practice deep listening towards your child, even when you don’t agree with him or her.
- Notice your own feelings when you’re in conflict either with your child or with any other person (the other parent, their grandparents, your neighbors…). Try these 5-minute daily mindfulness exercises.
Be an island of peace to your children
Modern society has been putting a lot of pressure on our children. The industrial ways of being and thinking. All the rushing around, and the stress created. The narrow view of life’s cycle and material consumption… It is more difficult than ever to find a time of silence and to connect with ourselves. In this condition it is important to help your child find peace in their own hearts. How? By being a peaceful island for your children. And first of all, to yourself.
Here are a few mindful parenting techniques to create a more peaceful lifestyle:
- Show your understanding when your child is tired and wants to rest. It is even if he needs to skip a school day or an outdoor activity. Don’t force them. Listen to your child’s emotions and actions.
- Reduce the number of external activities. Instead, increase the moments of true presence together. Learn to slow down
- Rest when you are tired. Preserve your freshness and smile for your children
- Breathe. When your child makes you frustrated or tired take a deep breath in. Fill your lungs with air. Breathe out slowly for a few seconds. Encourage your child to breathe during tough times too.
- Meditate. Practice meditation yourself will bring peace to yourself. Your child will feel it.
“Learn” instead of “teach”
My children have always been my great teachers. In them I see all the suffering we usually face. They often show me my own needs and struggles. For example, have you heard your child say this? “I want to be loved. The winner should be me. I don’t want my beloved ones to be separated from me. There is too much to do. People don’t let me do what I want. I am jealous”…
But also within them, there is such a great source of inspiration. How to overcome my suffering? Here is what they show you. “I can love people regardless of their behaviour towards me. Things can be accepted as they are. I don’t try to control. Offer me new ideas and I’ll be on board. …
“When we go on holiday for example, children usually accept with great eagerness what you choose for them. They have never tentative to control what you do. They are great holiday partners!”, shared by one of my friends.
Mindful parenting is a two way affair. Why not learn and practice together?
Indeed, in your children there are many things you can learn. Be open to observe and learn from them. It is a great example of your own openness. Being mindful is to be aware. From observation and openness we can demonstrate to our children our levels of awareness.
Just for today don’t try to “teach” them mindfulness. “Learn” from them instead. So here are some of my favourite mindful parenting techniques. See how it changes the relationship with your children.
- Observe your child. Notice the happiness he or she brings by being free from worries and attempts to control.
- Be in the moment: Remind yourself to go back to your breaths. Pay full attention to the moments spent with your child. No telephone, no work or computer. Drop all these and turn your head to listen mindfully to what your child has to say. Enjoy what’s happening right now.
- Practice acceptance. Try your best to accept your child’s emotions and actions. Can you do it even when you feel frustrated? Learn to see your child as a highly evolved being. Within them, the good seeds are already there for you to water.
“You can’t transfer wisdom and profound vision to another person. The seed is already there. A good teacher comes into contact with this seed. He helps it move, germinate, and grow”.Thich Nhat Hanh
The best mindful parenting techniques
We have together gone through a few mindful parenting techniques. How do you find them? Easy or challenging? There is only one thing I would like you to keep in mind. Here it is.
Children are like a stream of water running out from the source. So fresh and so pure. Bringing them on the path of mindfulness, of liberation is so easy. But it is also very difficult. Easy because children are very receptive to learning. Difficult because you can only transfer to them what you really possess. Indeed we can’t really give what we don’t have.
As a result, mindful parenting is a two-way sharing. When you teach the path of mindfulness to children you are like the spring sun opening the buds of a winter tree. The buds are ready to blossom but you need to be the sun rays, warm and full of light yourself.
Do you think you can do that? I really believe you can. It just needs a little practice. Start today and see how it transforms your connections with your children.