Mindfulness for better parenting



Study shows that our parenting techniques are being challenged

Practice mindfulness for better parenting


Mindfulness has been around for centuries. The practice comes from the Buddhist tradition, but over the last few decades, mindfulness has steadily made its way into Western culture, and even studied by scientists who praise its efficacy in dealing with stress, among other things. For parents in the Age of Covid, there’s never been a better time to try it.

As defined by Maria Gehl, Kathy Kinsner and Rebecca Parlakian at zerotothree.org, “mindfulness means paying attention to what’s happening in the moment and accepting those experiences and feelings without judgment.” Strange as it may seem, giving undivided attention to stressors can actually offer relief, and help us refrain from saying “this is the worst thing ever.” Being nonjudgmental, can bring peace.  

READ MORE: Mindfulness for the whole family

According to a zerotothree.org survey, a whopping 3 out of 4 parents said parenting was their biggest challenge, and less than half of parents (48%) reported getting the support they need when they feel overwhelmed. That sounds about right. But practicing full attention by giving yourself over completely to your child even when they are being terrible, and accepting, rather than railing against, their terribleness, is scientifically proven to make you feel better. Apparently, accepting yourself and your own terribleness is part of the practice, too, and makes accepting others easier.

The authors offer several handy lists, with items like, “Imagine your child’s feelings and match your response.” Meaning, take a step back before you act (easier said than done if a child is wailing, I know, but try) and imagine how your child might be feeling during a difficult moment. Also, before dealing with a stressful situation, try waiting and taking a few deep breaths. Those small tips can really go a long way.

Finally, compassion for both child and self are of paramount importance. Of the latter, the authors write: “Self-compassion means recognizing that parenting is a process of learning. If your first approach didn’t work the way you wanted, try something else the next time.” It’s hard to imagine “the next time” when you’re stressed, but that realization alone can bring relief.



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