Mindful Parenting with Love and Logic
Creating an attitude of gratitude, cultivating patience, and exercising a strengths based approach are parenting aspirations for most mindful Mom’s and Dad’s. Yet whether we are thinking about our meditation practice or how to be better spouse’s, it is difficult to achieve gratitude, to literally train our minds to find what is good and continually contemplate that internally and praise that externally. As any parent or family counselor knows, it is easy to offer praise when our child has aced the test and cleaned their bedroom, yet strengths based parenting in the heat of conflict or when your child is having a nuclear meltdown in the grocery store checkout, is a far more merit worthy endeavor. Understandably so, for parents, situations arise which can cause alarm, fear, the need to control and even protect. When your two year old jets across the street without looking for oncoming traffic, we see the worst case scenario, these situations cause intense feelings to come up for the parent, we react with our own emotions and some parents criticize, blame, and scold the child, if we are practicing strengths based parenting we attempt to find what went right, even during the difficult moments of big parenting challenges.
A really incredible mom, woman, and counselor Whitney Thompson who I am lucky enough to call a friend, shared a parenting story with me recently and with her permission, I am sharing this with our readers. Whitney’s 3 year old son has been having a phase of ‘loving being in the bliss of his full nudity,’ he strips his clothes off and runs around the house in the childhood abandon of freedom and joy. Whitney is mindful of not shaming her son for wanting to be nude, as a counselor and loving human she knows the deep scars that are caused when parents scream at their children or say things that make them feel embarrassed and bad. Parents have immense power to build up or to crush the little bits of self esteem that children attempt to grow as they explore the world and try to understand what life is all about. Last week, Whitney got a call from her sons preschool, they told her that her son had taken his quest for nudity to another level, he stripped down in front of the class. The teacher told him to put his clothes back on and he did at which point, Mom got ‘the call.’ When Whitney was sharing the story with me, I laughed and asked, so how do you handle that? She calmly replied, ‘Well, I told him thank you for listening to the teacher when she asked you to put your clothes back on.’ I paused and considered her response for a moment as the full beauty of it came over me, what an absolutely lovely way to respond to the child, guiding them toward what they did right and encouraging more of that behavior. Phases, we know will run their course in childhood but the encouragement that is given to a child by strengths based parenting will bolster their self esteem for a whole lifetime.
Can you think of any recent parenting battles you have had with your child? What happened and what could you have praised or encouraged? It takes little bit of mental gymnastics to really get there but once you do, all of the relationships around you can be impacted with this mindfully loving approach. We offer the same approach for any relationship, in marriage counseling, Gottman Method looks at how to turn criticism to using a soft start to state a need.
Want to incorporate more mindfulness into your parenting style? Start with these three steps;
Take a breath the next time your child is behaving in a way you wish they wouldn’t
Soothe yourself first, label your emotion, whether its anger, fear, disappointment, know what you’re feeling and recognize that when you are activated you probably are not going to be doing your best problem solving. Find ways to calm down, reading, walking, breathing all work well.
Now that you are calm again, think through what you can praise in the situation and share that with your child.
Thank you to all of the Moms and Dads out there who are doing there best to love, care, support and nurture and a big thank you to Whitney for the inspiration and living by example, her approach to mindful parenting with love and logic in a way that is supportive, child centered, and full of loving gratitude.
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