“Being present” or “mindful” is a goal many people set for themselves. While mindfulness might make you think of yoga or meditation, it can also be a good tool to enhance your parenting skills.
Mindfulness and parenting go hand-in-hand because mindfulness is simply learning to pause and be thoughtful before acting. Much of the best parenting happens when parents pause and think about how to act in response to their children.
Parents can develop mindfulness through practicing meditation, listening to contemplative music, doing yoga, spending time in nature or engaging in a physical activity, such as dancing or martial arts. Even mundane activities can build mindfulness. For example, slowing down while washing dishes and really engaging with the experience through all your senses can offer an opportunity for mindfulness.
Scholars of mindfulness typically define the practice as the act of paying attention to the present moment without being judgmental. As a parent, this may mean noticing and commenting on your child’s actions without describing them as good or bad. For example, a parent might say, “I see that your coat is on the floor,” rather than “I hate it when you don’t hang up your coat.”
When parents maintain a non-judgmental perspective, children feel heard and understood. Mindful parents are aware of how they feel in a specific moment, but they also remain aware of how their children feel. When both parent and child are calm, solutions to parenting challenges may be clearer.
Careful listening is another central element of mindful parenting. Mindfulness requires being present in the moment rather than mentally preparing an argument or statement. Mindful parents listen with their full attention and without judging or correcting their child.
The benefits of mindfulness extend beyond better parent-child relationships. People who practice mindfulness also tend to have a lower blood pressure and report less stress.