Being a parent is one of the biggest challenges life has to offer – especially when you’re trying to be a mindful and gentle parent. Most parents feel like they don’t get the support they need when they’re overwhelmed, making it even harder to remain mindful.
It’s easy to yell at your child in a time of frustration – it’s much more challenging to practice mindfulness in stressful moments. Sometimes, we slip up because, let’s face it, we aren’t perfect. And that’s okay. Our children aren’t looking for perfect – they’re just looking for us to be there and be mindful with them.
I know you’re a busy parent, and the state of the world today doesn’t make parenting any easier. Maybe you’ve been feeling more stressed out? Overwhelmed? Burnt out? I get it. You don’t just have to look after yourself, but for your children, household, and work.
It’s a lot – and that’s an understatement. So sometimes mindfulness gets put on the backburner…
But there are simple ways to implement mindfulness practices into your family’s daily routines. You don’t have to be bogged down by overwhelm and parenting guilt. A few minutes of mindfulness a day can transform you into a more energized, recharged, and empathetic version of yourself.
Let’s get into why mindfulness practices are so crucial for you and your kiddo. And how to practice mindfulness together.
The Benefits of Mindfulness Practices for Parents
Mindfulness is making sure you’re present in every single moment. By practicing mindfulness, you’ll be more present in your self-care routines instead of wondering what your children are doing. This helps you get the most out of your self-care time so you feel as refreshed as possible. You’ll also be able to fully enjoy your time with your children without worrying about the work you have to complete before going into work tomorrow.
When you pass your mindfulness practices along to your children, you’ll equip them with the toolkit they need to manage stress, build self-esteem, and become problem-solvers. Your child will be able to face the problems of the world while being present and showing self-compassion. By practicing mindfulness together, you can even lessen the chances of your child developing an anxious attachment style.
Benefits of Mindfulness Practices for Parents
Mindfulness exercises can help you decompress in times of frustration and overwhelm. By practicing mindfulness, you can actively focus on yourself and get in tune with your feelings. I understand that as a parent, there are many moments it feels like there isn’t enough time to worry about yourself and your emotions. But, if you honor your emotions and listen to what your body is trying to say, you’ll be able to address your child from a place of peace and understanding.
Here are some of the benefits parents experience when they practice mindfulness:
Improved communication with your child
Stronger connection with your child
Decreased feelings of depression
Fewer feelings of stress and anxiety
Increased parenting satisfaction (bye, parenting guilt!)
Fewer irritable moments
A decreased sense that parenting is challenging
The beginning of the process can feel daunting. You may feel skeptical in moments where your frustration is intense. But you need to push through those moments and stick with your mindfulness practices. Soon, they’ll become natural parts of your family’s daily routines.
Benefits of Mindfulness Practices for Kids
When you practice mindfulness you inspire your child. And these benefits are only amplified when they practice mindfulness themselves.
You can even do mindfulness practices together to create a stronger bond and unforgettable memories. By helping them do mindfulness exercises, they can learn what their emotions are and how to cope with them. As adults, we have years of experience living with our emotions, yet we still struggle to name them. Our children are even less equipped to understand their feelings.
So, here are some mindfulness benefits your child can experience:
Increased focus and attention
Higher sense of compassion
Improved academic work
Decreased disruptive behaviors
Fewer levels of stress and anxiety
Practicing mindfulness helps your child pay more attention to things happening in the moment and teaches them to accept new situations with openness. This helps promote happiness toward themselves and those around them.
5 Simple Ways to Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness practices don’t have to be 15 minutes of undisturbed meditation – as parents we barely get 5 undisturbed minutes. Instead, you can begin with smaller mindfulness practices. Then, slowly build your way up when you feel ready and comfortable.
Here are five effective mindful strategies you can practice throughout the day to reduce stress and promote happiness:
Teach Instead of Punish
When a child is throwing a tantrum, not listening, or crying it’s because they’re having a heightened emotional response. When they’re feeling these heightened emotions, practice mindfulness with them to help them recognize their emotions and use a positive coping strategy. This will help them diffuse without harming themselves or others.
Positive coping strategies can look like:
Taking deep breaths
Squeezing a stress ball
Running in place
Hugging a favorite toy
Reading a book
Slowly counting to ten
…and many more.
After a while, with practice, they’ll be able to recognize and diffuse independently. It’s crucial to let them know they aren’t bad simply because they have big feelings.
Time-IN Instead of Time-Out
Like time-outs, time-ins consist of having your child sit and think about their actions in a designated “time-in spot” – the difference is, you’ll be sitting with them. By sitting with them, you can help them practice positive coping strategies.
Once they’ve diffused, you can begin communicating with them. Let them know why their actions weren’t appropriate and how they can ensure it won’t happen again. Also, let them know they aren’t a bad child – in moments like these, children may believe they’re bad, which can make them behave even worse. You can say something like:
“I understand you were very upset. But how you reacted was inappropriate. Throwing toys when you’re angry is dangerous because they can hit you or someone else. You’re not a bad kid, and I’m not angry with you. You’re a great kid, and I love you. But your actions have consequences, so I want you to understand why that behavior is not okay.”
When you punish or isolate your children for having strong emotions, you’re unintentionally teaching them they’re not lovable when having a specific emotion. By choosing to practice time-ins, you can be present with them and form essential long-term connections. They’ll also learn that all emotions are welcomed, but how we handle them is crucial. You can learn more positive parenting tips here.
Tell a Story After Their Emotion Passes
When a child is having a tantrum, they’re unable to make logical conclusions. By being present with them, you can help them learn to cope with their emotions. Once the tantrum has passed and they’ve settled down, tell them a story. The story should connect the situation to their emotion. You can then walk them through what they’d like to try differently next time. This can look like:
“You know, one time I got very upset too. I was so angry, I threw my phone. And guess what happened. It broke! I was very sad because I couldn’t use my phone anymore. After that, I learned it’s not appropriate to throw things.
Now, when I’m upset, I don’t throw anything. I stand still and I take deep breaths to relax. Once I’m relaxed, I continue using my phone appropriately. It’s okay to get very upset – we all get very upset. We just have to make sure we behave appropriately.”
Children enjoy listening to stories, it helps them focus and piques their imagination. When you do this, you’re also showing your child that you have their back whenever they need it.
Fully Listen to Your Child
Sometimes, when you’re a busy parent, it can become quite a challenge to stick to routine – like leaving the house on time, getting home on time, finishing up dinner, the list goes on. In these moments, it’s easy to listen to our kids without fully giving them our attention. By giving them our full attention, we can truly listen to what they need and respond to those needs.
Walk a Mile in Your Child’s Shoes
When your child is throwing a tantrum, this method helps you understand why your child is feeling a certain way. This helps you come to a place of empathy and compassion to better help your child. So, when your child is crying for their favorite toy and throwing tantrums, think about how important that toy is to them and why they’re feeling that way. This mindfulness practice will help you approach your child from a place of compassion.
Mindfulness Exercises to Do Throughout the Day
Many of my clients are busy adults, like you, so they often don’t have enough time in the day to do long mindfulness practices. So, it’s best to start off small and work your way up to long, meaningful mindful exercises.
Here are some mindfulness practices you can do in just one minute:
Wake up and stretch – start your day by stretching in bed. Inhale and exhale as your attention scans your body. Notice how every part of your body feels. This helps you start the day by being in tune with yourself.
Sit and focus on your breathing – sit up straight, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing for one minute. Don’t focus on anything else but your inhale and exhale.
Walk and match your breathing – walk for a minute and match your breaths with your steps. Walk four steps as you inhale. Then hold for four steps. And exhale for eight steps. Keep doing this for a minute.
Here are some mindfulness practices for families you can do with your children:
Dance and freeze – use any playlist and dance to the beat with your child. In between songs, freeze and ask them to reflect on their experience or freeze like an animal or letter. You can even ask them to dance a certain way, like a ballerina, an animal, a hero, or their parent. You can create the rules as you go.
Simon says – this game is all about focus and listening, making it a natural mindful exercise.
“Going on a picnic” – sit in a circle with your family and say “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing. . .” finish the sentence with something that starts with the letter A. The next person has to say the phrase and end it with something that starts with the letter B. Continue playing until letter Z. See what silly and interesting things everyone comes up with.
There are so many different mindfulness practices you can do on your own and with your family to enhance your bond. Get creative, and have fun!
Practice Mindfulness With Your Child
Parenting can get very stressful at times, but it doesn’t have to feel like an overwhelming task. With mindfulness practices, you can promote happiness and healthy coping mechanisms throughout your household. Mindfulness can help you and your child find relief from any difficulties you face in life.
If you’d like to learn more about the importance of mindfulness practices, positive parenting techniques, how to overcome anxiety, and more parenting topics – join my safe space in my email list. I help many high-performing professionals, like yourself, achieve a healthy mindful lifestyle and foster genuine relationships. In my email list, you’ll gain free professional advice, proven strategies, and information on new programs and offers.
I can’t wait to hear from you and help you on your journey towards healing. Everyone needs a support system, especially when they’re a parent. You don’t have to go through this alone.