Parenting today can be extremely difficult. Our society pulls is in a million directions and as parents, we are more isolated than ever.
Distraction & overwhelm around every corner, it has become fundamental & necessary to learn and implement mindful parenting strategies with our children. Through this connection and mindfulness we can strengthen our relationships with our children, create more balance in our daily lives, and work towards healing generational trauma patterns within our families.
In a world crowded with noise, deadlines, and technology our children are swamped with the same pollutants that keep us anxious & disconnected. Our nervous systems are constantly being bombarded with stimuli that leaves cortisol, a stress hormone pumping throughout our bodies. Our fight-or-flight response is triggered expending our energy & causing an imbalance in our hormones. Our ever-stressed, fast-paced lifestyle causes our bodies to pump out cortisol almost constantly, wreaking havoc on our health. Increased cortisol can surprise the immune system, inhibit insulin production, cause weight gain, gastrointestinal issues, fertility problems, insomnia and more. Prolonged exposure to overstimulation and stress can literally shorten our lives.
Children are effected deeply by this overstimulation which can cause a range of behavioral issues as well as trouble sleeping and constant struggles with illness.
The good news- we can master stress management and reduce the harmful impact that prolonged cortisol exposure can have on us through mindfulness techniques. The next step is passing those techniques on to our children.
While adults have the ability to understand & manage their stressors, children depend on the adults in their lives to model and teach them healthy coping techniques. Without this guidance they are destined to repeat the devastating cycle of unwellness & imbalance in their own adult lives.
As parents raising the next generation, we must be diligent in ensuring we are doing everything in our power to be mindful & present in our daily life with our children.
WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
mind·ful·ness | \ ˈmīn(d)-fəl-nəs
Definition of mindfulness
: the quality or state of being mindful
: the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis
also : such a state of awareness
Mindfulness allows you to focus on the here and now versus “what might have been” or what you’re worried could be. I know that as a parent I have found myself worrying about the future or focusing on past mistakes more than a few times. The messaging we get from our modern society tells us that our children’s struggles are a reflection of our parenting instead of the normal development process happening in their brains. We convince ourselves that when we yell or have a bad day as parents we are failing them. When we don’t have the capacity to accomplish the impossible pile of tasks & responsibilities stacked in our lap each day we can get stuck in a constant loop of negative self talk, leaving us far removed from the actual here and now.
Mindfulness allows you to slow-down, pace yourself, reflect on the situation at hand, and refocus your thoughts. When we can retrain our brains to have an awareness of our emotions & thoughts moment to moment we can better manage the legitimate stressors in our lives and let go of toxic + false narratives that no longer serve us.
HOW DOES MINDFULNESS APPLY TO PARENTHOOD?
Practicing mindfulness in your daily life doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be a mindful & connected parent. Unfortunately parenting can also reawaken childhood traumas, causing us to repeat negative & toxic patterns within our own families without even thinking. “It’s the way I was raised!” is often the excuse we fall back on. But what if we could change the narrative so our children don’t have to carry the emotional baggage of previous generations?
Unlike personal mindfulness where you internalize your own thoughts & emotions to benefit yourself, mindful parenting requires the active involvement (action or attitude) towards another person (your child). It also requires us to slow down in heated & challenging moments, which can be hard when we have not started our healing journey or may not have mastered the skills necessary to engage in that type of awareness.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF MINDFUL PARENTING?
I think the benefits of mindfulness in parenting is clear but new studies are showing just how much mindful parenting can impact a child-parent relationship.
Preliminary research suggests that mindfulness-based parent intervention therapy may:
- reduce stress
- enhance parenting satisfaction
- decrease child aggression
- increase children’s pro-social behaviors
Practical examples of mindful parenting include:
- Being present and in the moment when spending time with your children.
- Listening carefully and acknowledging your child’s opinion (even if you disagree).
- Putting ourselves in their shoes.
- Being aware and taking a hold of your own feelings when there is a child-parent conflict. “Our children aren’t trying to give us a hard time, they are having a hard time.”
- Learning to pause before responding in anger.
- “Just being” instead of always “doing”.
It is no secret that the when mental health of a parent is good, the better off their children will most likely be as well. That is why I focus so much on the importance of mindfulness, self-care, and a daily gratitude practice. When we spend time nourishing our mind, body, and spirit we are better able to care for the people that love & rely on us.
Now that you’re familiar with mindful parenting and it’s importance you might have two questions in mind:
- How can we apply mindful parenting activities to our daily routines and ensure a happier and healthier parent-child relationship?
- And how does this in turn enable us to raise emotional and mentally stable children?
That is why I recently released my new E-Book Mindfulness for Parents. It walks you through 10 ways you can become a more mindful parent and actionable steps you can take to implement them in your every day life. There is also information on resources to further your mindfulness practice.
You can find it as a digital download in our E-Book Library.1