By Kerry Hart, LLMFT
Mindfulness is having a moment right now and why shouldn’t it? Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by being present in the moment.
People use this practice to be fully self-aware, cope with various stressors and even to raise their children. While mindfulness requires one to focus inward, mindful parenting requires you to focus on improving your child’s life in the long term by approaching discipline with a calm, level head instead of a knee-jerk reaction.
Studies show that children who grow up in households where mindful parenting is practiced experience less anxiety and depression than those who don’t and are less likely to use and abuse drugs in their lifetime.
The first step to mindful parenting is to utilize the STOP technique as outlined below.
S —Stop. When feeling stressed, stop all activity and thought.
T —Take a breath. Calm down by being aware of your breathing and lessening your heart rate by focusing only on your breath.
O —Observe. Take a moment to observe how your calmness and breath brings your body back to its natural state.
P —Proceed. Once you reached a calm state, you will have transitioned to a more mindful mode. You will be able to take action that is more thoughtful and appropriate than you would have otherwise.
Setting this mindful example for your children and teaching them the STOP technique will bring them peace as they experience the gambit of emotions and situations they will come up against in life.
Take a moment to step back from your expectations as a parent and see your child for who they really are. If they can be celebrated for being themselves, they will learn to sit in their present moment and truly enjoy what this moment has to offer.