Slow down your parenting the mindful way.
Mindfulness in parenting has gained popularity in Singapore in recent years. Why? Well as it turns out, this approach to parenting has benefits for your child in the long-term. Simple acts such as encouraging your child’s creativity, independence and love of learning can go a long way! So, if you’re yearning to slow down and build your relationship with your child, here are some of the most meaningful principles from mindful parenting you can try at home.
How to bring mindfulness into your parenting
#1: Be present for your child
It’s easy to get distracted by our phones these days. But don’t be – especially during caregiving activities such as diaper change time, feeding, dressing and bathing. Put away your phone, any other distractions and focus. Your other children can join you and assist in the caregiving, but your focus is entirely on the child in need of care. Don’t rush through the process. Enjoy it while it lasts!
#2: Ask for cooperation and participation
Another easy way to practise mindful parenting is to ask for cooperation and participation. During caregiving duties, tell your child what you expect of them and talk them through the process. This way, your child becomes an active participant in their own care when you ask for help and offer choices. An example: “In five minutes it will be bedtime. You need to brush your teeth. Would you like to use the yellow toothbrush or the blue one?” Teamwork makes the dream work!
#3: Be patient, wait and let your child be
When possible, slow everything down. As an example, you could offer your child a choice of outfits and give them the time to choose. Or, you could ask them to dress themselves. If they’re struggling, help them, but ask them to participate, too. For example: “Can you help me by pushing your arm through the sleeve?”
It’s important to also try not to interfere with your child’s play. If your child is engrossed in play, let them be. Resist showing them how a toy works. The greatest way to foster a love of learning and creativity comes from the satisfaction felt when a child discovers something themselves.
#4: Try ‘sportscasting’
Talk through what you are doing and what your child is doing. Talk, talk, talk and do it as though you were a sportscaster on TV. Why? It helps our children to develop language skills, and it’s a way of acknowledging what they’re doing without passing judgement.
#5: Remember there’s no right or wrong
You may be surprised to know there’s no good nor bad in mindful parenting. Here’s as an example to illustrate: “You are throwing the ball in the house. I have asked you not to throw the ball in the house.” Sportscast. There’s no judgement. You’re simply stating the facts.
“I’d like you to take the ball outside otherwise I’ll put it away until tomorrow.” Set an expectation and offer a choice. Follow through consistently with a consequence for choices that the child makes themselves.
#6: All emotions are created equally
#7: Praise the effort, not the outcome
How do we reward the effort and not an outcome? Here’s an example to help you understand. For example, telling your child, “You tied your shoelaces all by yourself!” This presents no judgement – you’re simply acknowledging the achievement. Now, if your child has been practising this for months you might say, “Wow! You practised so hard, and it was worth it!”
Tip: Don’t bribe, reward or punish for outcomes, praise effort and let the ‘consequences for the behaviour’ do the talking.
#8: Don’t tell the kids they’re okay
Typically we say when our child falls, “You’re okay! Get up and off you go!” Mindful parenting asks us to wait for our child’s reaction and sportscast: “You fell over.” They may run off as if nothing happened, or they may cry and look for your support. If that’s the case, we say, “You’re upset. I can see that. Would you like a hug?”
Try to avoid making a big deal or say, “You poor thing!” Mindfulness avoids creating victims and victors but also supports children in expressing, rather than suppressing their emotions.
And if you want to know more, here are some books we recommend about mindful parenting…
Elevating Childcare and No Bad Kids by Janet Lansbury (who also has a supporting website)
Your Self-Confident Baby by Magda Gerber
No Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel
… Or join Singapore’s Respectful and Mindful parenting group on Facebook to be part of a like-minded community!