Parenting can be quite the ride – from caring for a demanding newborn who needs your attention 24/7 or a toddler whose tantrums have you over the edge handling household chores and taking care of the bills. It’s no wonder that parents are overwhelmed and barely have time to care for themselves.
Twenty-four hours a day when you’re a parent doesn’t seem enough, which is why you have to make the most out of what you have. Parents have, therefore, mastered the art of multitasking because that’s the only way they can get everything done. However, that means that your mind is focused on many things, and you’re unable to give one thing 100% attention.
Mindful parenting instead advocates that we approach things differently: breathe and live in the moment while providing undivided attention to one thing. But isn’t mindful parenting easier said than done, especially if you’re dealing with toddlers? Read on to learn more.
What Is Mindful Parenting?
Mindfulness is all the buzz right now, with so many people practicing it for happier and more meaningful lives. To be mindful is to live life in the moment and be self-aware of your position in the world, thoughts, and feelings within and without. Also, a mindful person is less judgmental and more accepting of his world.
According to Healthlinethe concept of being in the present moment originated from Buddhist meditation and has been researched and practiced for centuries.
Mindful parenting involves the same principles but in regard to raising children. It means that you’re fully present with your child, free from judgment or distractions, and with an open mind. Mindful parenting means that you’re more attentive to your toddler’s needs, and are aware, understanding, and kind in your interaction. You learn to handle one thing at a moment and the other in the next. G
Iving your toddler your undivided attention may sound easier than done, and it cannot be done overnight. So, you set a continuous intention to remain present at that moment. According to Headspacebeing present can include:
- Listening to your toddler as he tries to tell you something.
- Noticing when you have conflicting feelings.
- Taking a moment before responding.
- Letting your child air her opinion even though it differs from yours.
The point is to be attuned to your kid’s deeper needs. Is your toddler crying because she’s angry, hungry, tired, or is there more to it? Once you understand their needs, it’s easier to respond lovingly and appropriately.
Mindful Parenting For Toddlers
You should practice mindfulness when things feel crazy. And parenting a newborn or toddler does feel crazy a lot of times. So crazy that you feel like you’re on autopilot mode.
Picture this; Your newborn won’t stop crying because she’s colicky. At the same time, your toddler is throwing a tantrum and has dropped her food because she doesn’t want to eat her veggies. And you’re still expected to take care of the household chores and respond to a work email. It’s normal for parents to react to such scenarios the same way we would respond if we were in danger.
According to Gottman, people respond differently to stress. However, most people can barely think clearly and have difficulty staying focused, and our problem-solving ability is diminished.
Far too often, parents will lose their cool and maybe shout at the kids, letting their emotions get better. And this can be scary to your kids. Also, it’s another way of showing them that this is how they should also respond to stress.
Mindful parenting means taking a step back before responding. Your toddler also learns to pause and chooses to respond rather than react. Of course, this doesn’t apply to scenarios where you feel that your child’s life may be in danger.
Scenarios to apply mindful parenting, for example, include:
- Your newborn cannot sleep because she’s colicky- Take a minute to breathe. Your mind may wonder how hard it’s been the last couple of months because you’ve barely slipped. You’re convinced your life can never be the same again. But, again, breathe. You’ll get through this, mama. Try and understand your emotions. Are you frustrated or angry? All of this is understandable. Acknowledge it, and don’t be harsh on yourself. Understand that this is a normal phase in newborns, and it won’t last forever.
- Toddler throwing a tantrum at the grocery store- It can be embarrassing to deal with this behavior, especially because strangers are watching. Also, it may cause negative emotions. It’s important to stay in the moment. Ignore the stars and understand that it’s normal for your child to be enticed by the many things at the store. Or maybe they are tired or sleepy. Accept that your toddler can and will get out of control in such environments, and they’re also dealing with big emotions. But don’t get them whatever they want to calm them down. Instead, wait for them to cool down and take them elsewhere.
Benefits of Mindful Parenting
Mindful parenting is effective because:
- It enhances communication with your toddler.
- Lowers hyperactive and aggressive behavior in kids.
- Increases the joy and satisfaction that comes from parenting.
- Reduces anxiety, stress, and depression.
- Increases overall parental involvement.
- Makes parenting feel like a breeze.
Sources: Gottman, Headspace, Healthline
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