Parenting in today’s times has become incredibly challenging. These children are different. Their needs are different. Hence our parenting methods should be as per our child. It’s time we let go of standard parenting methods and evolve with the needs of our child (or children). Mindful parenting and conscious parenting are buzz words all over the internet. But what is it?
Mindful Parenting in These Easy Steps
#1 Mindful Parents Model their Behaviour
In other words, do exactly what you want your child to do. For eg: If you want your child to eat healthily and stop eating junk food. We must ditch junk food first. Eat healthily yourself and the child will be inspired to make the same healthy choices. If we are sneaking in chips or cake for snacks then how do we expect our children to eat vegetables?
The same principle applies if we want them to respect elders, taking care of our health, be responsible with our belongings, speaking politely etc.
In other words, they listen to us more when we walk the talk.
#2 Child’s Last Activity Before Bed Matters
Reading a book, saying a prayer, talk about the good things and not so good things about your day. Express gratitude for the blessings you have, talk about what you and your child are looking forward to the next day.
Gadgets are a BIG No!
We get it. You are crazy tired. Probably unable to even keep your eyes open. Setting the child with an iPad is an easy way out.
Here’s the thing that they won’t sleep.
Gadgets when used at bedtime induce wakefulness.
Use bedtime as an opportunity to bond with your child. And create some wonderful childhood memories.
#3 While Parenting Put Your Phone Away
This is a big one and a real one. Smartphones have literally taken over our lives. So much so that it has become addictive. The impact our phone addiction has over our children is worrisome.
As the technology expert, Linda Stone has put it, it is “Continuous Partial Attention”. This distracting parenting where you are physically there for your child but emotionally and mentally away.
We condemn our children for their screen time and online games etc. Little has been said about the parent’s addiction and how it’s harming our parenting capabilities.
Yes, we get it. You have to take that important call with your clients in US or you have to order groceries online because your days are packed with office commitments.
It is impossible and impractical to banish phones whenever around children.
Try putting your phone away for an hour.
Give them your quality attention. Listen to them. Relate and empathise to when someone laughed at your child at school. Teach them how to handle themselves when someone hit them at the park.
#4 As Parents Always Work on Self-improvement
Just like learning is a life-long process, so is self-improvement. Show your child that must keep working on self-betterment and become better versions of ourselves.
The only way to do that is by working on those imperfections and turning them into our high points. and it is never too late to do that.
For eg: If you had an important presentation that did not go as expected. Bring this up when talking to your child. Not in a defeated stressed manner but in a reflective manner. Tell him that presentation did not go well and I think I should have added this particular element for an impressive and strong presentation.
The biggest advantage of showing how you are working on self-improvement in your life is, it motivates the child to be better. Teaches them that it never too late to cultivate skills, manage time better.
#5 Mindful Parents Give their Children Full Attention
Do you want to know the secret of raising socially and emotionally stable children?
Giving them your full and UNDIVIDED attention. Positive attention makes your child feel secure and valued.
A secure child grows up with a healthy sense of self and has stronger relationships at work and at home.
It is important that you lock your gaze with them during interaction and push any other thought out of your mind.
Lock your gaze means be at the similar eye level as them. Do this. Even if takes for you to bend and come to the child’s eye level.
Looking at your child while they speak does two things.
Gives them the assurance that they are important and their feelings are valued.
#6 Think Before you make a Promise to Your Child
If you are unsure, then tell them you will think about it. But do not make a promise, hoping for the moment to pass and the child will forget. Only that they won’t.
Do you know what message, breaking your message sends to your child?
That they cannot rely on you. They cannot trust you until they see it happen. The child starts taking you lightly. It makes the child insecure.
Yes, they may grow out of that particular bicycle or don’t want to swim any more or do not want to watch that movie anymore. But they will not forget when didn’t keep your promise.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
So, are you careful about how you are making your child feel?
Number – 1 rule in the parenting rule book is they are learning everything FROM YOU!
So if you cannot fulfil a promise you made to your child. Then you are teaching the child that it is okay to not keep their word. It is okay to make excuses and escape situations.
#7 Empower Your Child
Here’s how you can do that:
- Involve them in taking their life decisions.
- Give them choices.
- Make them believe their life is in their control.
- Make them see their interests, strengths and weaknesses.
- Teach your child how to upgrade their interests and skills.
- Support them on their choices.
- Let them learn from their mistakes. Stand behind them during the process.
It empowers the child in incredible ways.
Another fun method to empower your child is by teaching them the ‘Pirate Method’. It is an incredible stance which fills up the child( especially girls) with confidence. You could do it with your child for 30 seconds, a few times in a week.
#8 Mindful Parents are Careful of Their Words
A child’s mind is a meaning-making machine. They are listening to your verbal and your non-verbal cues ( like body language, facial expressions etc).
Any unthoughtful comment made by the parent can leave a lasting impact on the child.
According to Forbes (2012), “By the time a child is eight years old, he is typically told seven times more negative messages than positive messages”
“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
#9 Encourage the Habit of Reading in Your Child
Encourage the habit of reading in your child for the following reasons –
- Helps the child improve their concentration.
- Reading improves memory.
- Teaches the child about other cultures in far and distant places of the world.
- Boosts critical thinking skills.
- Gets them to understand their feelings while reading stories, plots and characters.
- Improves imagination.
- Helps the child with their creative writing.
- A healthy source of entertainment.
- Encourage your child to pick up a book to read. If your child sees you reading, he is most likely to pick up a book for himself as well. Ask family and friends to gift the child books.
Make his storytime a fun bonding time with your child. If the child is having with reading stories with you, he will connect better with books. Making reading an enjoyable and effortless activity for him.
#10 Do Outdoor Activities with Your Children
Camping, Hiking, Cycling, Picnic whatever you and your child choose to do. If not every week then at least every month.
Getting outdoors makes you and your child physically stronger, increases muscle and bone health.
Fights obesity – which is much too prevalent these days amongst children. Teaches positive behaviour skills and builds their social and cognitive areas.
Children who spend time outdoors exhibit better concentration on a task, as opposed to children who spend time indoors on their gadgets. This was shown by a study conducted on children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
#11 Respect and Take Care of Your Parents
Children watch everything we do. If they see parents disrespecting their elders. That’s what they will grow up doing.
As parents, if we teach our children the value of respecting elders then
- They grow up to have healthier relationships.
- Make life choices of self-betterment.
- Respect you as parents.
- Understand compassion.
- Care for others in their environment.
- Develop an un-selfish attitude towards other people.
When they see you respecting your parents and taking care of them. They learn to respect you and listen to you more.
Instil strong family values in your children just by being loving respectful children to your parents.
#12 Be ‘Present Parent’ for Your Child Everyday
We do not mean just physical presence here but in terms of positive attention.
What is Positive Attention?
Positive attention is when you connect with your child and his experiences and stories. Getting in the moment with your child.
For eg: if your child brings you a flower. You bend down to his level, smell it, have a conversation about the flower that he found. That is positive attention.
If your child is small then positive attention could be in the form of a smile or warmth you give him when he is around you.
For older children, a moment of positive attention could be driving them to school etc.
It is crucial that every child from the age of an infant is given positive attention. It makes them feel loved, valued and important.
#13 Give Your Child Responsibility Around the House
Make it age-appropriate.
It could be any type of work like setting the dining table before meals or watering the plants, taking the dog out for a walk.
Doing housework or daily chores makes the child learn important life skills that help them in all ages and stages of life.
Life skills that children learn :
- Time Management
- Planning their daily schedule
- Sense of ownership
- Money management ( if your child is earning his pocket money through daily chores)
- Teamwork ( where the family is the entire team and every family member brings value by sharing the work)
- Work ethic
#15 Important for Parents to Coach their Child that Failure is Okay
“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is a delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”Denis Waitley
- Show compassion towards your child’s feelings
- Share your own experiences when you failed. It will show them that everyone faces failure
- Tell them what you learnt from your failure
#16 Teach Your Child How to Think
Believe it or not! Just like we teach them what to eat, read etc. We do end up teaching them what to think.
How many times do we really ask our children what they think about a particular situation or subject?
Don’t judge yourself here, it is quite natural to pass our thoughts and beliefs on our children. The way our parents passed on theirs.
In addition to acquiring our thought process, children also get influenced by their friends, social media, movies, books etc.
As parents, we work hard to give the best education, upbringing, facilities and resources to our child but they will make the most of it if their thinking skills are strong.
The idea behind teaching your little one how to think is to encourage your child to express himself.
This process gives your child the confidence to think, express and gain knowledge.
In the times when your child shows original and out of the box thinking – reward them.
The world does not need more of “follow the herd” mentality.
We need more original thinkers.
#17 As Parents Demonstrate Flexibility to Children
Often times, our rigid ideas cause an obstruction in our knowledge and growth. Rigid behaviour learnt in childhood can also affect the professional life in later years, as they are unable to cope and deal with uncertainties that may arise.
- Benefits of flexibility in Academics;
- Builds creativity and writing skills;
- Helps solve Math problems by quickly changing strategies;
- Benefits of flexibility in personal life;
Children who exhibit flexible thinking and attitude towards life make better relationships with their peers, resolve conflicts easily and
Demonstrate Flexibility to Children by
- Bending the rules sometimes.
- Change the Routine
- Read them jokes. By reading jokes and sharing with your child, you can teach him how a certain word can be tweaked and turned into a joke.
#18 Listen to your child’s advice ( Best Parenting Tip)
#19 Apologize when needed
Now, this is a huge one. As adults, it’s difficult for us to apologize to other adults let alone to tiny humans many generations younger to us.
The whole idea of accepting that we made a mistake is shameful. As parents, we cannot make mistakes.
Isn’t that an unfair expectation out of ourselves? Considering to err is human.
If you apologize to your child it will remove the shame around mistakes and goof-ups. they will grow up with a better sense of themselves and others.
As your child is learning about life.
You are learning to be a parent. So, go easy on yourself.
Treat your child like another human and a companion. Parenting will become a breeze.
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