Updated: September 23, 2022
By Ocean Noah, contributing writer
When you’re a parent, you love your kids unconditionally.
You want your children to feel loved and be safe, successful, happy, and whole. Right?
Yet, you also know that there’s only so much you can do to ensure that your kids have a healthy foundation. After all, you want your children to grow up to be strong and caring adults. You want them to give back to their communities and those around them in a positive way.
At the same time, you’ve got your work cut out for you. It’s your job to help your kids find balance between feeling comfortable with what they can accomplish and to pushing themselves to reach their highest potential.
How can you do this? For starters, you can try practicing mindfulness.
Parents should practice mindfulness for several reasons, but one is because it brings you closer to a healthy balance yourself. And this will help you encourage your children to blossom – while you remain cool as a cucumber.
Here at Pretzel Kids yoga, we believe that every parent can benefit from learning mindfulness. Here are three key reasons why:
1. You get to practice being a present parent and person
You are a whole person, with a life outside of being a mom. You need to pay attention to yourself, too.
It’s not reasonable to give your children 100% of your attention all of the time. A more realistic goal is to give them undivided attention when you are spending time with them.
In other words, try to limit multi-tasking when you’re with your children. This way you can give them undivided attention at that moment. At other times, you can focus on yourself and your other responsibilities and obligations.
For example, if you’re at the park with your child, try not to look at your Facebook feed or email inbox. Try not to make a shopping list in your head or think about what to make for dinner.
How can you be present in this moment with your child? Maybe that looks like putting your phone away during conversations, or observing your surroundings and discussing topics of the day – together.
It may seem tedious at first to slow down and only focus on one thing. But eventually, it can bring a lot of joy. It gives you time and space to share moments that you may otherwise miss out on, like smiling at a passing butterfly.
2. Become a mindful role model
Your children are always watching you and imitating your behavior.
In fact, your kids probably observe you more than you are aware of. It’s not only about what you do or say to them. They watch what you say to other people, what you say and do around them, and how you react to stressful situations. So, while it’s important to give yourself space to emotionally react to what’s happening around you, it’s also important to keep in mind how your reactions affect your child.
Perfect example of why parents should practice mindfulness
Let’s say you’re driving your child to a morning kids yoga class and you’re already late. You spill a little hot coffee from your thermos on your hand as another car tries to merge into your lane. A situation like this might make you want to yell and curse. That would be a natural reaction to a stressful moment like this one.
But your child is watching you from the backseat.
Again, this is not to say that you should not get angry. Anger is a valid emotion. But lashing out imposes negative feelings onto your child and is a poor example of how to manage difficult emotions like anger.
Instead, a moment like this is a perfect opportunity to model healthy coping skills. For example, you can take a few deep breaths and tell your child that you’re feeling angry, and that you’ll be okay because you are breathing to calm yourself down. Any time you can do something like this is a victory!
Your children remember how you react, especially when they find themselves navigating difficult emotions on their own.
Another awesome aspect of modeling mindfulness for your child is that it benefits you too! While it might feel like you’re acting or faking it at first, you’ll be practicing mindfulness as you’re modeling this behavior. And this will make you stronger when it comes time to deal with frustrating situations (which you know come up all of the time)!
3. Know your child, know yourself
The practice of mindfulness encourages self-awareness, which is crucial for healthy relationships – especially your relationship with your child.
Taking a few minutes to meditate or simply reflect can shed light on who you really are and what you want from life or other people. It may feel like there is hardly any time to think deeply about yourself. And, you may prefer to prioritize your child’s needs over your own. But listening to yourself is essential and powerful.
Being mindful can bring clarity to some of the most challenging aspects of parenting, like fighting with your child or enforcing boundaries and consequences with your teenagers.
Taking a moment to reflect and listen to yourself can allow you to think critically about your intentions and help you better understand where your child is coming from. You can then approach conflict with more compassion, kindness, and self-awareness.
Start learning mindfulness today!
Are you sold on practicing mindfulness to complement your parenting? Good!
Mindfulness will help you be a compassionate and patient parent, while it also equips you with stress management and self-awareness tools. Everybody wins! Once you are practicing mindfulness and modeling it for your child, you can teach it to them, too. As part of our online kids yoga teacher training, we offer a course called How to Teach Mindfulness to Kids.
You and your child will benefit greatly from learning mindfulness skills, and this mindfulness course is an excellent place to start. Are you ready to give it a try?
Ocean Noah is a content intern at Pretzel Kids. Originally from Los Angeles, Ocean moved to San Francisco to study creative writing at San Francisco State University. She writes fiction, blog posts, and op-eds. Ocean is thrilled to write for Pretzel Kids, as her mother is a yogi too!