With so much discussion and traction surrounding mindfulness in today’s busy world, it is important to consider not only how being mindful is beneficial in improving our own wellbeing, but also the effect it has on those around us, particularly our children.
There are times when parenting feels like a rollercoaster, a constant ride of ups and downs but taking a moment to reflect, stop and appreciate will be the key to sticking with positive parenting practices.
Mindfulness is about being present for our children, where we consider our own thoughts and feelings while also being open to those of our children. When we consider mindfulness as parents, we are enabling our children to be fully present in the moment and we give ourselves the opportunity to develop thoughtful responses to our children, improving overall communication. Parents who are mindful are able to be present during connecting interactions such as talking, singing, cuddling, reading and playing which not only helps your child’s brain to grow but will generate a stronger relationship that echoes trust, a sense of safety, a greater ability for self-expression and love.
Dr Anna Cohen, Sydney’s leading Clinical Child Psychologist offers simple mindful strategies that will leave parents more connected with and attuned to their child’s needs particularly when overcoming challenging situations.
• Notice your own words and actions when in conflict with your child. Mindful parents have intention in their actions, so consider how you are feeling so you can intentionally choose how you will respond to the situation. Instead of reacting negatively, consider how you can act as a positive role model and maintain the respect of your child by asking yourself what your child needs at this moment in time. Parents need to be thoughtful, even when in conflict, as it is unreasonable to demand considerate behaviour from someone if you do not treat them respectfully. Remember you are your child’s greatest teacher.
• Stop prior to responding in anger. It is not possible to be an in-charge parent when arguing with your child. When feeling hurt, frustrated and angry it is difficult to stop yourself from acting in an immature manner, however it will not lead to a positive resolution. Parents need to act as a role model so children learn how to deal with conflict in a constructive and appropriate way. The way we as parents communicate with our child determines how they experience themselves in that moment, something that will be reflected throughout their life.
• Listening careful to a child’s perspective. While you may not agree with what your child is saying, it is important to give them to opportunity to discuss their feelings. Parents need to maintain their role as the parent by staying in control and make decisions and consequences based on reasonable and fair thinking rather than irrational thoughts that may not be able to be followed through on.
Mindfulness is an approach to parenting that allows for consideration and presence in a child’s life that will strengthen your communication and relationship. When parents are able to relate to children using mindfulness, they will be able to have more rational thoughts, actions and experiences that will limit arguments, create more constructive communication and make parents more available to their children’s needs.
For more information or professional advice contact Sydney’s leading Child Clinical Psychologist, Dr Anna Cohen at Kids & Co. – www.kidsandco.com.au