Mindfulness Techniques for Parenting
It’s no secret that raising children, especially those diagnosed with a mental health disorder, can be overwhelming for many parents. And when it comes to these stressful family situations, research shows that the parents are at a greater risk for anxiety and depression. So during
stressful parenting moments, it’s important to learn how to pause and take a step back before responding to the situation. There are a number of techniques to help you incorporate mindfulness into your parenting.
What does “mindful parenting” mean?
Mindful parenting means not letting your emotions control you when your children are causing you stress. But it doesn’t mean you should fight your emotions. Rather, it’s the ability to sit with your feelings for a moment until you can react more calmly to a stressful situation. This takes practice and it’s okay if you’re not perfect at it. But being able to manage your emotions and behaviors will in turn teach your kids how to manage theirs in the future.
Take a mindful pause
It’s easy to respond harshly when your child is acting out because our brains are wired to react to stress without thinking. For example, your child might accidentally break something. Instead of thinking clearly, you could perceive the situation as more serious than it actually is.
But in any particular stressful moment, pause and wait a few moments. Focus on your body and your breathing. Take a deep breath and let it out. Then, instead of trying to block your emotions, listen to your thoughts. Notice your feelings. By doing this, you can sit with your emotion for a few moments and respond to your child from a calmer state of mind. And by being mindful of how you respond to something, you can also teach your kids how to pause and respond calmly.
Respond with empathy
Having empathy means that you can place yourself in someone else’s shoes to understand where they’re coming from. Remember, kids aren’t able to manage their feelings like you can. Kids are still in the learning process of regulating their emotions. But of course, you can still have trouble with emotional regulation too. You’re kids aren’t perfect, and neither are you. So it does no good for you to blame your kids for your stress, or to blame yourself for not being a better parent. You’ll just add more stress to the situation. And parental stress is one of the greatest sources of stress for kids and adolescents. So after taking a pause, listen to what your child has to say instead of dismissing them. Even if you don’t agree with them, you can respond from a calmer mental state. This will also model emotional regulation for your kids.
Make yourself a priority too
It can be easy to disregard your own needs when taking care of your child, because you feel guilty about focusing on yourself. But the less stressed you are, the less stressed your kids will be. If you’re feeling drained, you’re more likely to lash out at your kids. But if you’re able to show yourself some compassion, you can show more compassion to your kids too. So take some time for self-care. Refresh yourself by doing things that help you relax. Reenergize yourself by doing things that are enjoyable to you.
Benefits of mindful parenting
Here are some of the biggest benefits of mindful parenting:
● You will be better at emotional regulation instead of letting your emotions control you
● You will respond more calmly when your children act out instead of having impulsive reactions
● You won’t expect perfection from yourself or your children and will have a healthier relationship with them
● You will reduce stress as a parent
Mindful parenting can definitely take practice to achieve. But if you commit to it, both you and your child will benefit greatly