Respond, don’t react.
Mindful parenting is the process of responding thoughtfully to your child’s behaviours or actions, not allowing initial snap reactions to get involved. You pay attention to the scenario unfolding, rather than allowing your emotions to take over. This is a parenting technique proven to be an effective response to angry or upset children.
The first thing to understand is that children learn their behaviour from you. So, if their home environment is full of tension and arguments, then your child will more likely have more angry outbursts in response to things. Ensuring the home environment is calmer and less reactive, will positively influence your child’s behaviour. The next thing to understand is that mindful parenting does not mean being a ‘perfect’ parent. It is not something you can fail at, just something to get into the habit of doing. Mindful parenting doesn’t mean not getting angry or upset, it just means acknowledging your emotions and responding in a non-reactive way. Reacting mindlessly to scenarios based purely on emotion is problematic, but we’re here to help with 5 tips for calmer kids.
1. Introduce mindfulness into your own life
- Introducing mindfulness into your own life is the first step. As previously mentioned, children act based on behaviours learnt from you, so if you are demonstrating calm and mindfulness your child will respond the same. This is all about being in tune with your senses and the world around you.
- Think about small children. Their curiosity is endless and they find happiness in the simple things, whether this is a food aeroplane or a pretty leaf. They are in tune with the world around them, taking it all in slowly. We can learn from this. Take more time taking the world around you in, stay in tune with your own mind and body.
2. Introduce mindfulness to your children
- Use simple games to introduce mindfulness into your child’s life.
- Try getting your child to eat their food more slowly, savouring the tastes.
- Take them on a walk and point out different objects and things.
- Encourage them to ask questions and look for things themselves. When on the train or in the car, play I-spy or get them to look at things out of the window, rather than just letting them stay glued to their electronic devices.
3. Pay attention to your child
- Science consistently concludes that good relationships within your family make for a happier life.
- As a parent, you should pay full attention to your child, stay in tune with their feelings and emotions and recognise when they seem upset or worried.
- Doing this will show them that you care about their emotions, meaning they will be less reactive and argumentative in future.
- Try setting aside 30 minutes to an hour a day to give your child your undivided attention, whether this is doing their favourite activity with them or listening to how their day has been.
4. Take a breather
- Press pause before reacting to conflict with your child.
- Listen to what they have to say and acknowledge their feelings, there’s nothing worse than feeling as though your emotions are invalid.
- Even if you have a different viewpoint, allowing them to express themselves and put everything out on the table allows you to calm down and think before reacting.
- It also shows your child that you care about their feelings, meaning they will likely respond more calmly and positively in return.
- Practicing gratitude is also a good skill here. Feeling and expressing gratitude is a great way to feel calm and happy. Try and write a small list every day of things you are most grateful for in your life to ground yourself and remind yourself of all the great things in your life.
5. Don’t judge
- We tend to make prejudgements and generalisations about many aspects of life, including how our children will react to certain situations.
- Try not to prejudge your child’s reactions or if you do, acknowledge this and take a step back before reacting.
- Appreciate each moment as it comes.
With these 5 tips, you are now one step closer to becoming a more mindful parent and ultimately having calmer kids. Now it’s time to put them to practice!