In today’s world, we are often reminded of the increased pace of life and how it could be having an impact on our wellbeing. The added pressures of raising a family, social media influence and a never-ending to-do list can make juggling life feel somewhat tricky. From this, it is easy to see why many busy people are turning to mindfulness as an antidote to the chaos. But how can mindfulness extend to parenting and what are the benefits? Mindful parenting is all about taking a step back and evaluating each task in hand in order to gain a better understanding of the situation and the emotions that may be involved.
What is Mindfulness?
When practised on its own, mindfulness is the art of being truly present in a given situation. As busy adults, we can often become consumed with looking ahead and making plans, or letting the past influence our behaviour and decision making. By being present, you can become more aware of your feelings, and the feelings of those around you, allowing for a more empathetic response. Mindfulness can also help to analyse and deal with complicated emotions as it increases our ability to be aware of them. Simply being aware of mindfulness is a great start, and some people like to use meditation or nature as a mindfulness aid.
How does Mindfulness Relate to Parenting?
In terms of parenting, the perspective of mindfulness changes slightly. Mindfulness parenting is about becoming aware of your emotions and those of your child. Children, particularly younger ones, naturally live more in the moment, so being able to put yourself in their position gives you the ability to understand their perspective better. For example, if your child wants to jump in the puddles, they do not see the consequence of being wet and muddy afterwards, they just see the puddle and want to jump. By pausing before responding and becoming more aware of your child’s emotions in conflict, mindfulness can help you to find a new level of emotional understanding. By practising from an early age, you can create the opportunity to be more responsive and more productive, and ultimately achieving a deeper connection with your child.
What are the Benefits of Mindful Parenting?
By approaching your child with an open mind, you are much more likely to get a better understanding of each other, allowing you to be more in tune with them. It is best to start from a young age, but mindful parenting can begin at any time, and the benefits have been observed in children and teenagers. In one study by the University of Vermont, researchers surveyed over 600 parents of children aged three to 17. The analysis suggested that parents who reported to exercise a more mindful approach to parenting, engaged in more positive and less negative parenting behaviour. In turn, this behaviour was reflected in the behaviour of the children, resulting in less anxiety, depression, and a general disruptiveness.
In adults, those who practise mindfulness report to have reduced anxiety and depression, less trouble sleeping, and a better attention span when compared to those who don’t. Further research and reports show that mindfulness can have a wide range of positives. By educating your children from an early age, you are equipping them with the tools to lead a more balanced future.
How Can I Start?
The important thing to remember is that becoming a mindful parent doesn’t happen overnight. Mindful parenting is about taking a new approach to situations, and there may be times, particularly stressful ones, that it all goes out of the window. Don’t let it put you down, instead, work on breaking your tasks up into manageable chunks, so you have more time to consider each part of the day. For example, if mealtimes can be a high-pressure situation, try allowing for an extra five or ten minutes. There are many apps and books available that go into depth on the subject of mindful parenting and suggest various methods. You could also treat yourself and immerse in a luxury, educational yoga retreat in Italy or other beautiful destinations in Europe. Don’t forget that by caring for oneself, you are nurturing the best version of yourself to care for your family and loved ones!
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