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. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-015-9978-x
Herein, A. and Philippot, P. (2011). Changes in Ruminative Thinking Mediate the Clinical Benefit of Mindfulness: Preliminary Findings. Mindfulness, 2(8) https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-010-0037-y