- Just Be Present: At the core of mindfulness is the act of being in the present moment. That means that if you are eating dinner, choose to taste your food or reflect on how your child’s day went rather than tuning out as you watch tv during dinner. You can bring mindful awareness to any moment during your day by simply choosing to bring your awareness to the sensations (e.g., sounds, sight, smells, touch, tastes), thoughts, or feelings.
- Breathe: Breathing is not only vital to your life but can be used to increase or decrease energy levels. If you intentionally breathe deeply, you slow your heart rate and blood pressure which has the side effect of relaxing the mind and body. If you breathe quickly, it has the opposite effect. Parents are less reactive if they are relaxed and thus, when your child inevitably tells you something alarming, infuriating, or disappointing, you will be better equipped to respond in a non-critical manner.
- Be kind: The third step to mindful parenting is about not responding critically, judgmentally, or in any violent ways to others, especially your kids. Being mindful is about acknowledging any feelings that come up and consciously deciding how and with what to respond. Remember, if your child discloses they did something wrong and your response is criticism, they will be much less likely to share personal matters with you again in the future in fear that you may judge them again. Mindfulness is also about being kind to oneself (self-compassion), which allow us to be kind to others.
- Teach your Kids: Kids learn so much from their parents– “the good and the bad and the ugly.” So why not teach them mindful tricks? Parents who model mindfulness and opening talk about it are going to experience a deeper relationship with their partners and children. There are lots of activities that parents can do to promote mindfulness in their children such as having dinner and conversation with distractions such as TV turned off. Kristen Race, Ph.D., author of Mindful Parenting: Simple and Powerful Solutions for Raising Creative, Engaged, Happy Kids in Today’s Hectic World offers lots of practical ideas in her book on how to cultivate mindfulness in children.
In summary, mindfulness is about choosing to pay attention in the present moment without judgement. The applications of this simple practice can have a profound impact in your relationships with your children and partner.