Today I was asked to describe what I meant by being a mindful parent. Here’s my description.
I believe, and what I teach, is that mindful parenting is not just one thing, it’s about becoming aware of 4 key things.
1. Triggers: What are your triggers and where did they come from? You need to know what’s motivating your reactions so you can change them.
2. Feelings: Kids need to be allowed to express the progression of their feelings as you remain supportively nearby. There really is a natural psychological progression of feelings that people go through when upset. If someone yells at a child, or tries to shut down the natural progression a child goes through as they are processing their emotions, the child remains stuck in the particular emotion where they were stopped; they don’t learn that you can live through intense emotions and come out the other side.
3. Connecting: Connecting and being empathetic is key to helping kids understand and calm their emotions. This is the step most people associate with being mindful; asking kids to take 5 deep breaths, or just talking to them and empathizing with them. Doing those things are key components, but kids need more than just this in order to learn about themselves and the situations they find themselves in.
4. Authority: Using a Mindful Teaching Authority™ is far different than using a reactive authority. When you teach instead of yell, your words and authority are clearly heard by your child as mom and dad mean business. When you use a reactive authority with your kids they become disoriented and conflicted. Kids don’t know that other parents are more intense than you are, they only know you are the most powerful thing in their world and your yelling feels like thunder to them. When you yell, your child becomes emotionally flooded and wonders am I loved, safe, or am I bad? They focus on being confused and upset, not on your words, lessons or corrections. Using a Mindful Teaching Authority™ helps them shift from being emotional to thinking again so you can teach them the life skills they need to grow and change their behavior.
That is my 2 minute definition of what being a mindful parent is.
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Now go hug your kids.