Mindful parenting is gaining traction in the parenting world as parents seek to approach parenting in a non-threatening and non-judgemental manner. With the rise of parent experts such as Dr. Shefali’s Conscious Parenting Approach, many parents seek to approach parenting more mindfully and see more positive behavior outcomes when interacting with their children. Research in the field show a distinct correlation between mindfulness and the improvement of overall well-being. It’s gaining momentum -- and rightfully so.
“...two new research studies paint a different picture, suggesting that mindfulness may also help improve the well-being of others in our lives—in particular, our children—if we truly practice it. In one study, researchers at the University of Vermont surveyed over 600 parents of children ages 3-17 to see how mindfulness related to their children’s well-being.” 
Parents reported more feelings of unconditional love when they were able to mindfully approach the situation versus setting unrealistic and harmful punishments towards their children. Many parents also suggested that their children became more anxious, disruptive or even depressed during times when their parents yelled or implemented harmful and unrealistic punishments. The study overall concluded that a mindful approach not only benefited the stress tolerance of the parent, but also impacted the overall behavior of the child.
1. Be aware of your space: movement-to-movement interaction proves to be successful when parenting mindfully. Be aware of when and where you are when speaking to your child. Is the environment safe? Is the environment distracting? Would it be more beneficial to move to a quieter space?
2. Mindfully manage stress (and stressful situations): take a step back and evaluate the level at which you expel your stress. In the book “My Stroke of Insight” Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor Ph.D. explains:
“When a person has a reaction to something in their environment, there’s a 90 second chemical process that happens in the body; after that, any remaining emotional response is just the person choosing to stay in that emotional loop.
Something happens in the external world and chemicals are flushed through your body which puts it on full alert. For those chemicals to totally flush out of the body it takes less than 90 seconds.
This means that for 90 seconds you can watch the process happening, you can feel it happening, and then you can watch it go away.
After that, if you continue to feel fear, anger, and so on, you need to look at the thoughts that you’re thinking that are re-stimulating the circuitry that is resulting in you having this physiological response over and over again.”
3. STOP and take a breath: remember to take a moment to stop what you’re doing and take a deep breath. The situation can often take a brief pause before action is taken. To access this tool when we are upset or feeling stressed we need to develop a daily breathing practice. It can be in the form of meditation or it can just be a few deep mindful breaths when we wake up. How do we do this?
Try This Simple Mindful Breath Practice
Breathe along with this GIF from mindful.org to calm a stressed out mind. Focus on the sensation of your breath in and out.
4. Establish healthy boundaries with your children: allow your child to help set healthy boundaries. How do we set these healthy boundaries? Picture this - your child is walking a tightrope and they may fall and hurt themselves but they may also walk across just fine. It all depends on their skill level. This is pretty obvious, but sometimes as parents, we don’t let our children gain these skills. We hold their hand the whole way which is a disservice to our kids who need to make their own mistakes and learn how to get across the tightrope of life on their own. Now mindfulness does not mean that you are ten feet away either, that is called neglect. Mindful parents will stand close and catch their child if they fall, but allow them to make their own mistakes and figure out how to get across on their own.
Help guide your child through this process and begin to notice the link between mindfulness, behavior and the mind-body connection. Ground yourself in the situation and pause before reacting to truly appreciate mindful parenting.