When you practise mindful parenting, you acknowledge your thoughts and feelings towards any given situation, but do not allow theses thoughts and feelings to hinder your response. Being mindful allows you to respond to your childs actions through the eyes of an observer, rather than responding by acting on your immediate emotions towards their behaviour.
Here are some examples:
- The child is running around the house and accidentally knocks down an expensive vase. The parents immediate emotional response is anger. They shout at their child to watch where they are running and may accuse them of being a bad child. A mindful parent would feel angry but not act on their anger. They would approach their child and calmly explain that they need to be more careful when running around. They would also reassure their child by letting them know that they know it was an accident. They may suggest that running around in the garden would be a better option and explain why.
- The child has injured themself while playing and is crying. The parents immediate emotional response is worry. They run to their child, see if they are ok, and comfort them while attending to the injury. Their next immediate response is to calm the child down. They say, “You’re ok, it’s not that bad. Be brave. No more tears”. In contrast, a mindful parent would acknowledge their childs feelings and say, “I know it hurts right now, but it will get better”. They also won’t try to rush an end to the tears, but indicate that it’s ok to cry when you’re in pain.
- The child barely passed their school test. The parents immediate emotional response is disappointment. They tell their child that they should have tried harder and show their disappointment. The parent may also feel angry and punish their child by grounding them. A mindful parent would recognise their disappointment (and anger) but not react on it. Instead, they would respond with loving encouragement. If the child tried their best, the mindful parent would tell them it is ok and may offer to help with revision for the next test. If the child did not even try, the mindful parent would explain why it is important to make an effort and offer some help.
With mindful parenting, the relationship between a parent and child is of a loving, accepting and understanding nature.