There’s a lot to say about mindful parenting. But, let’s start here. Think back to your relationship to your parent(s) or guardian as a child and try to remember what you thought of them growing up.
Were they your hero? Was your mom your role model and your dad your biggest fan? Did you have some feeling of resentment toward them? Did mom or dad have a hot temper? Or was one of your parents not present, literally not there or just not mentally there? Remember the first time you realized they were human and perhaps fallible?
Maybe it was younger than you expected to stumble on this fun fact.
PARENTS ARE THE CORE OF BELIEFS & WHAT WE LEARN
The first time I understood that my parents were human was when I walked in on them ‘doing it’. Oh yes.
Most kids shudder at the thought of their parents engaging in that level of intimacy. Trust me, I am no different. I just realized very early that my parents are human and do typical human things. Our parents too have feelings related to their relationship. These feelings often go beyond what we see, including conflicts, embraces and laughs.
Pretty mind blowing, I know. It also meant my parents had a life before me that included each other. What? Further to that, they had lives even before each other. Then it stands to reason that they too also had experiences in the world as individuals.
Now, this all sounds rather obvious when we think of ourselves as
adults going through our lives. However, as a child of 5 or 6 years old, having this realization about your parents can be a jarring experience. The world then seemed much bigger than just myself. Wrapping my 6 year old mind around time happening before me threw me into an infant existential crisis.
I digress here ever so slightly, but the main point is simply to highlight early understandings of the world through experiences with our parents.
WHAT DOES PSYCHOLOGY SAY ABOUT PARENTS’ ROLE IN OUR LIVES?
“Our parents or guardians often constitute one of the most important relationships we have for your entire life.”
That means this relationship can tend to be the model we use for building subsequent relationships with others. The relationship with our guardians is where we learn very key relationship building skills. We then go onto mirroring these relationships throughout our lives.
There is a great deal of psychology on this particular topic. For instance, John Bowlby’s attachment theory concludes that a strong emotional and physical attachment to at least one primary caregiver is an essential part of development. Attachment theory has long been around and was expanded most notably by Mary Ainsworth. She suggested that when separated from our primary caregiver we develop a particular attachment style.
Thinking about it like that puts it into perspective. The relationship we have with our children are part of the core of how they develop as people. It also allows us to take the ever controversial nature versus nurture argument (and equally contributing factors) by the reigns and help shape a well adjusted, well rounded child into an adult.
“In other words, a large portion of the development of our children is within our control and starts with us.”
This ultimate toolkit will outline mindful parenting in more detail. The FREE step-by-step practical kit comes with worksheets so you can understand how to put it into practice in your everyday life.
There is a workbook like format to work through the tenants and its application as it’s applicable to you. Print the worksheets out and hang them on the fridge to guide you toward more mindful parenting.
Go on raise those cool headed kids!
WHAT IS MINDFUL PARENTING?
There is no universally agreed upon definition of ‘mindful parenting’. However, mindful parenting is a derivative of a Buddhist meditation practice. The key tentacles of Buddhist meditation made its way into popular culture and colloquialisms by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979. He created a program called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).
Following the success of the MBSR program, a plethora of studies have documented the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness. The program itself also has shown to work in the real world. From this, many programs have been created adapting MBSR model for interventions in healthcare, parenting, education, rehabilitation, etc.
“Most experts can agree that mindful parenting is about creating constant intentional awareness to the relationship with your child.”
The components of a parenting mindful intervention model, or how to actually practice this differs from study to study. As a result of this ambiguity across the literature, this toolkit takes the successful components of a variety of studies. It also summarizes the practical elements of mindful parenting and how you actually use this term in your day to day life to benefit both you and your child.
A main tenant of Mindful Parenting is about finding the right headspace.
THE EFFICACY OF MINDFUL PRACTICE IN PARENTING
The scientific community generally consider the highest form of evidence a systematic review. A systematic review briefly is a review of high quality existing literature in determining if a treatment or intervention actually works. For many treatments there is no existing critical review of the literature.
For Mindful Parenting, in 2009 there was a systematic review of all the studies that met operational criteria for inclusion. Of the existing studies, only 7 randomized controlled trials met the inclusion criteria.
The systematic review of existing literature found that mindful parenting programs may reduce parents’ stress, increase parental emotional awareness (of children 10-14 years old) and reduce symptoms related to preschool children’s externalizing behaviour. Another notable finding of the review is it found mindful parenting programs helped parents reduce emotional dismissal of their children (adolescents and preschoolers).
Although the results of the study were generally positive, because there is just not enough good quality evidence out there, the review could not make the big statement that mindful parenting improves both parents’ and children’s overall well-being.
PRACTICE GUIDE TO APPLYING MINDFUL PARENTING
This guide is as much about teaching these principles to your child as also learning them yourself. To get a FREE full Mindful Parenting Guide with workbook exercises click here. The idea is that you work on bringing the following elements to your parenting interactions, parent-child relationship and to all parties individually. The goal here is to strengthen your skills as a parent, develop your relationship with your child and promote through example and intentionality, the skills for your child to acquire.
- Being and being present.
- Awareness and reflexive existence.
- Listening with full attention.
- Respect and promote your child’s autonomy.
- Non-judgemental acceptance.
- Practicing gratitude.
- Teaching emotional awareness and self-regulation.
- Cultivating kindness and compassion.
“Your actions matter, your child will emulate your behaviour. Raising emotionally regulated, compassionate, self-reflective humans is part and partial to raising a cool headed kid.”
Print out the worksheets and take the time to work through the exercises.
If you’re interested in learning more, register for our Mindful Parenting course. Spaces limited.
Don’t forget to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in the parenting world by following me on Instagram!
Be good to yourself,