Mindful Parenting is about developing and deepening the parent-child connection by intentionally bringing focused awareness to everyday parenting situations. According to Daniel Siegal, author of Parenting From the Inside Out, this approach to parenting enables children to experience the full presence of their caregivers. It is a way of being attuned, parent-to-child, that fosters resilience and emotional intelligence. Mindfulness can also be thought of as having a sense of security as a parent. Research shows that the parent’s “state of mind” is the best predictor of how their offspring turn out in terms of their own attachment or capacity for close, caring relationships.
Children who feel connected to their parents:
- Have healthy self-esteem
- Do better in school
- Feel comfortable around adults
- Develop a positive self-concept
- Explore and try new things
- Have an easier time with change
- Choose healthy relationships
5 Exercises in Mindful Parenting
1. Be mindful of your expectations of your children and reflect on whether they are truly in your child’s best interest. How you communicate those expectations is also of great importance.
2. Try to see things from your child’s point of view, purposefully letting go of your own now and then. This will foster a deeper understanding of your child as well as a deeper connection.
3. Apologize to your children when you have betrayed a trust in even a little way. However, be mindful of being “sorry” too often. It can turn regret into a habit if you are saying it all the time.
4. Practice altruism, putting the needs of your children above your own whenever possible (your children’s needs are different from their wants)
5. Continue growing in self-knowledge and awareness. Taking classes, reading books, and talking with experts can increase your understanding of both yourself and your children.
Excerpted from Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting (1997) by Myla Kabat-Zinn and Jon Kabat-Zinn. , Mindful Parent Happy Child: A Guide to Raising Joyful and Resilient Children (2001) byPilar M. Placone, Ph.D. & Parenting from the Inside Out (2004) by Daniel Siegal.
Marilee Hartling, RN, MFT and ECDA Staff