Mindfulness in parenting: reduce your child’s risk of psychological problems

Laetitia Gerbaka
· 10 min read

Stop. Take a moment to breathe. Think about the present moment. Get in touch with your surroundings. Feel the space around you. Breathe again.
You just practiced mindfulness.

This “power of now” allows us to get in touch with our reality and to let go of what is overwhelming us. It is associated with better emotional responses, interpersonal relationships, and cognitive functioning. It has also been proven to equally improve both mental and physical health, as it alleviates the weight of chronic pain as well as that of anxiety or depression.

Mindfulness in parenting
We can all recall how often in our childhood or adolescence we wished our parents would just breathe in and relax, or just make some efforts to understand us. In innovative words, we just wanted them to be mindful of their interactions with us. We were simply asking for a safe space to have healthy communication and learn adaptive emotional responses. This is exactly what mindful parenting aims at: creating a generally more peaceful atmosphere for both the parent and the child, thus improving the relationship between the two. The point is then building a generation of children who will not regret not have a strong bond with their parents or who resent the lack of emotional connection to their genitors, the way we might. Indeed, psychologist Justin Parent and his team explain that these practices increase the warmth between parent and child, creating ad reinforcing this bond our generation sometimes lacked.

Mindful parenting: the multi-dimensional benefits
We’ve established that a major advantage of mindful parenting is the improvement of the parent-child relationship. While both parties learn to let go of their maladaptive emotional responses thanks to this practice as they replace them with healthier ones, this is far being the sole benefit. In fact, in their article, J. Parent and his coworkers found a wide array on positive influences mindful parenting has on each the child and on the parent.

The child: lower risk of psychopathology
In their study about mindful parenting, the authors interestingly found that the practice significantly reduces the risk of youth psychopathology across all ages. In other terms, parents who practice mindful parenting makes their child less prone to mental illnesses and psychological distress. The findings establish a substantial relationship between mindful parenting and youth psychological well-being. Therefore, the children are more likely to healthily cope with their problems and to open up about them to their parents, which will reduce the negative long-term impact and thus generally protect the child’s mental health. Then, not only would we be building a generation of better parents, but we would also save the young generation from psychological distress we’ve been through and have been repeatedly trying to get rid of.

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The parent: better lifestyle and relationships
While the benefits of the parent’s mindful practice reflect on their children, it is undeniable that they positively impact the person themselves as well. Indeed, mindfulness has been widely studied, and its benefits are countless. The latter go from self-regulation, to better cognitive functioning, to the decrease of ruminative thinking. Therefore, parents who follow these principles have a better general functioning and well-being, and have been recorded with lower stress and impulsivity, better partner/marital relationships, and smoother co-parenting.

Mindful parenting, baby steps
Having said all of this, where do you go on from here? As a parent, how you do put this information into practice? Psychologist Justin Parent and his team gave the answer by shedding a light on the importance on applying mindfulness techniques in parenting. When parents are taught mindfulness skills and start using them in their interactions with their children, they are applying mindful parenting. However, for a parent, learning new healthy and adaptive parenting practices may be a difficult process. This long road can then be paved by easy steps that can be adopted and practiced by the parent:

  • Be aware of the present moment during interactions with the child (remind yourself of where you are and with who)
  • Be less judgmental and more receptive to the child’s behavior
  • Reduce harsh criticism and coercive (repressive) discipline
As a conclusion, mindful parenting gives us the chance to fix the mistakes we found in the way we were raised, allowing us to create the emotional bond we might have lacked and the safety some of us always longed for, keeping in mind the long-term benefit this will have on the child’s mental health and emotional well-being. In other words, if you are a parent, next time your toddler screams their lungs out because they do not want to go to sleep, instead of bashing out back at them, remind yourself of what teenager-you begged of your parents when refused to go to a party: Relax. Breathe. Take a moment for yourself. Remember all you’ve learned. Practice mindfulness.


Parent, J. et al (2016). The Association of Parent Mindfulness wit Parenting and Youth Psychopathology Across Three Developmental Stages, Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 44, 191-202.

Herein, A. and Philippot, P. (2011). Changes in Ruminative Thinking Mediate the Clinical Benefit of Mindfulness: Preliminary Findings. Mindfulness, 2(8)