The How-To of Mindful Parenting: Treating Children as People

Choosing the route of mindful parenting is far from the traditional style of the do-it-because-I-said-so approach. Treating children as inferior to adults is the foundation of this older (and dare we say, outdated) mindset. Just like anything else in life, there is room for evolution and improvement on the front of child-rearing like this podcast episode discusses. Shifting the dynamics of parenting from being authoritarian to a more mindful approach supports children in growing into better individuals and develops a stable parent-child relationship. 

There are 11 tips for mindful parenting:

  1. Practice being present with your children.
  2. Unplug from time to time.
  3. Have a dedicated space for meditation.
  4. Take breaks.
  5. Practice gratitude.
  6. Teach resilience.
  7. Meditate
  8. Don’t judge.
  9. See the world through your child’s eyes.
  10. Don’t be afraid to break routines.
  11. Self-care.

Here are 4 steps to mindful parenting that help you treat your children as more than just children:

  1. Be Mindful Not To Invalidate Your Child's Feelings

A mood shift, temper tantrum, obnoxious shouting, or endless crying can put the most patient parent at their wit's end. It's easy for a parent to feel like the victim of their child's seemingly unvalidated outburst.  “What is wrong with you?” is often the question a parent might lead with. To the child, this can feel terribly hurtful and they may go through life feeling like something is wrong with them. 

Instead, consider asking,  “What do you need?”. This question conveys the acknowledgment of their experience, rather than dismissing it as something that is wrong and that they have to deal with on their own. Acknowledging their feelings no matter how crazy their emotions are may help them feel safer. Sometimes that sense of safety is all they need.

  1. Reassure the Child

Building upon the previous suggestion, the sense of safety that envelopes a person, especially a child, is an essential component of one's growth. A sense of security guards a child against negative pressures that are seen throughout life. Through this safety, the opportunity for them to mature in other areas of life – like confidence, problem-solving, communication, etc, – is provided with a solid foundation. 

Through this style of conscious parenting, the parent can support the child by being present with them and provide reassurance whenever they voice out their concerns. If the question, “What are you so scared of?” has been in the communication with you and your child, consider removing it and opting to guide them through their feelings so that they have better tools to deal with their triggers. A simple hug might be all it takes. 

  1. Highlight Gifts and Talents

In mindful parenting, it's essential that the parents recognize a child's gifts and talents and help them nurture these traits as they grow. This recognition will contribute to higher self-esteem as they get older. An important aspect of this is to harness what the child enjoys and is good at versus what the parent wants or believes is best for the child. Forcing kids to excel at sports or hobbies that they don't enjoy will have an adverse effect on their growth.

  1. Help Them Find Purpose

People do not necessarily have to dream but life gets more exciting and fulfilling if people find their purpose in life. This purpose can change and evolve and doesn't need to stick to one defined lane but can be many different things. The key aspect here is to ignite a passion for something that encourages their growth as a person. Give them the freedom to dream as big or as little as they choose and help them fuel that dream continuously. 

If you enjoyed this article, listen to this podcast episode to learn more.