Mindfulness & Parenting – A Match Made In Heaven
Say goodbye to tantrums (we’re talking about our own too) and conflict at home and embrace mindfulness for a happier home.
Joanne Jewel, Founder of Mindful Consultancy FZE tells us how and why…
1. What exactly is mindfulness and what is mindful parenting?
“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally,” (John Kabat-Zinn, an expert in Mindfulness). In terms of Mindful Parenting it’s about being emotionally present with your child, being aware of their feelings and your own in any given situation and by doing this, being able to make a conscious decision or choice about how you respond to them.
2. Can you give us an example?
If for example you have a young child who is refusing to share a toy with a younger sibling, instead of reacting with frustration and insisting that they share the toy, a mindful parent would recognise their own emotion, which could be frustration or irrigation, recognise their child’s emotion – which could also be the same or something different, and then make a conscious choice about how they are going to respond to this. A mindful parent would then choose to respond in a what that is appropriate to their child’s developmental stage i.e. are they old enough to be able to share on their own, and role model the skills that they want their child to learn as they grow – i.e. listening, empathy, respect, compassion and setting boundaries. This could sound something like, “I can see that you don’t want to share with your brother and you’re cross that they keep wanting to play with the same toy you have. It can be really frustrating when someone wants something you have and you aren’t ready to share it. Would you like me to help you share or can you do it on your own?” The specific response depends on the age of your child but the important thing is to make an emotional connection with them before moving onto a solution or action.
3. How does it help with parenting/raising kids? And does it matter what age your kids are?
The skills a mindful parent uses role model all the important skills and values that we want our children to learn as they grow into adults. This means that they are learning exactly what they need, in an age appropriate way from the people that they love and care about – it’s an incredibly powerful and authentic way to teach children. You can start parenting in this way at any age, I have parents who contact me from when they find out they’re pregnant and parents who have ‘children’ in their 20s!
4. Do you have to learn to be mindful?
Being mindful is a skill and like any skill it can be learnt. Some people find it easier to be more mindful, this may depend on their parenting experience as a child or other skills they’ve developed during their lives – it’s something we can all learn though and apply throughout all our lives and in all our relationships -both at home and work.
5. Does it take a lot of hard work and practice?
It can feel hard sometimes to be mindful but really only requires a daily practice of 10-20 minutes and this can be done in many ways – walking, drinking, breathing, drawing etc so you can build it into your daily life rather than needing to find extra time. Mindfulness is always a practice, some days it’s easier than others and it’s a choice we make every day – even after 20 years of parenting in this way I’d still say I’m practising!
6. Can kids be mindful too and how can we help them to get there?
Everyone can be more mindful and there is lots of evidence to show that practising mindfulness is beneficial for children which is why many schools are incorporating it into their day. The best way to help your child be more mindful is to role model it in the way you parent them and you can also teach them from a young age how to breathe in a more mindful way which is usually the first skill we teach. Like any skill, children learn best from adults who exhibit the skill too.
7. What does a mindful parenting course cover and how can we expect to grow/change from taking a course?
Mindful Parenting courses run for 12 hours and cover both the theory and practise of parenting in this way. Each course is split into 5 sessions which cover, Connection, Re-direction, Setting Boundaries, Teaching Co-operation, Discipline, Praise and Child Development. The workshops are split into ages which make it easier for parents to pick the one most appropriate to them and share with other parents at a similar stage, these are: Enjoy Your Baby (Up to 1 yr), Toddlers (1-3yrs), Younger Children (4-8yrs), Pre-Teens (9-12yrs) and Teens (13+). I also offer Private Consultations for parents which take place at their home and are tailored for any specific concerns you might have – these can be a good introduction to the Workshop and also provide maximum flexibility for busy parents. The feedback I get from parents is that they learn a huge amount from the workshop and they are always sad when they finish as they love the topics and opportunity to learn – about themselves, their children and really take the time to focus on what it means to be a parent. You will learn practical skills each week that you can take away and ‘practice’ with your children as well as having a much better understanding of what your triggers are and how you can change these. Mindful Parenting is an ongoing journey and the workshop is the start of that, once you’ve completed an initial workshop you can then join our other courses, including the siblings course and refresher sessions so we are there to offer continued support on your journey.
To find out more about Mindful Parenting courses or to attend free seminars, visit the Mindful Consultancy Facebook page. There is a free seminar this Thursday (5th January) at DUCTAC, 9am – 10am. Spaces will be limited so please contact firstname.lastname@example.org