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Mindful Parenting
Mindful Parenting

Introduction

“Children must be taught HOW to think, not what to think. She must have had the Art of Mindfulness in mind” by Margaret Mead (a respected American Cultural Anthropologist)

Do you have difficulty control your child’s tantrums?

Do you find your child lack confidence at times?

Does your child struggle to focus and concentrate?

Does your child have difficulty making friends?

Are you looking for more ideas on who to raise a happy, confident and more compassionate child?  

If the answer is YES, then you should continue reading.

In this topic, we will explore how we can make family life calmer and happier through mindful parenting. Mindfulness is a state of presence, where you take account of NOW. The past does not worry you and the future doesn’t create anxiety. Increasing mindfulness can assist us in becoming better parents by helping us to focus on what we are doing with our child and on his/her experience rather than on our own emotions. Being mindful not only will help us become a better parents, but may enable us to find solutions to many life situations. It can also help children develop into stronger and more self-aware individuals.  Following, we will provide a head start on how mindfulness can benefit both adults and children.

The 7 elements of Mindfulness

Acceptance – Acceptance is acknowledging people and situations as they are. The earlier the children learn what acceptance entails the quicker case of bullying, racist remarks and split personality segregation will drastically decrease, children will understand that there is more to that other person beyond their physical features.

Be yourself – This element I believe could be the mother of all the other elements. Being yourself entails celebrating who you are as a person, embracing your weaknesses and living your life the best way you know how. This element can only be realized when you are in the present moment. When you acknowledge that you are going to live with yourself forever. When you take a look at your legs and are thankful that you can walk, when you are content with all your body features and also ensure that you take good care of yourself because you are all that you have. Teaching children to be themselves will help them to cope with the indifferent World when time comes for them to go out there and face it head on.

Free of expectations – Expectations arise when you need to satisfy an inner need. Inner needs require inner satisfaction. No amount of outer satisfaction will ever satisfy an inner need because the person will never know if the inner need has been satisfied. There will always be something missing. If you need plenty of money, then the inner self needs to satisfy is sadness. There is always a notion that money and happiness are synonymous, which of course is not true. If you are people pleaser who expects to be loved/liked by everyone, then the inner need that requires satisfaction is confidence/security. Outer needs should in case compliment the inner needs and not override them. Unmet inner expectations lead to anger, spite and worry. In a state of Mindfulness, you have enough for the point in time. Tomorrow does not make you nervous. Your life does not depend on someone else or some situation for it to progress. A life free of expectations is the life everyone should desire. Children ought to be taught that it is what is inside that counts and the other expectations are vain.

Letting go – Letting go entails leaving situations as they are and allowing events to unfold as they are supposed to. Letting go becomes hard especially if you have invested a considerable amount of resources (time and money) and emotions in a person or a situation. Mindfulness teaches us that once you invest in someone or something, it is wise that you let it be. Do not stress yourself by predicting an outcome. Give everything you do that best of your ability, then walk away knowing that even if it fails, you will still have won. This way, if the desired outcome materializes you will be thankful and elated and if it does not, you have lost nothing.

Being non-judgmental – Being judgmental has become such a part of us that we would rather believe in a lie coming from a person we hold in esteem and disregard the truth coming from our least favorite person. There is not the worst bit, the worst part is when we judge ourselves. When being ourselves is not good enough. When we choose to see and live our lives through the eyes of the other people. Does it have to be that way? Are we able to free ourselves from this dreaded curse? What does it take to be non-judgmental? The answers to the questions lie in being in a state of Mindfulness. Once you are in this state, you are aware of who you are. You don’t need any external approval to continue or stop with your aspirations. In addition to that, you don’t preconceive answers and solutions when talking or listening to a person. You give the other people a chance to lay out what they have to say and then you make a non-biased decision based on what you know about the topic at hand or make the decision based on the gut feeling you get at the particular moment.

Patience – Patience is the act of waiting for results or a specific turn out in a particular situation regardless of how long it will take before the result materialize. This is easier said than done, especially when the results you are waiting for are needed urgently in order to solve a particular issue. In reality, nothing is ever urgent. It is our inability to work on or ahead of schedule that gives birth to the feeling or urgency. This though is not meant to dismiss legit situations that arise and are unforeseen. Next time you find yourself impatient, ask yourself this question “Is there something else that I could be doing as I wait for the results to turn up?” You will always find something that you can do that will keep you temporarily sane as you await your results. The good news is that if you are in a state of Mindfulness, you will always manage to keep yourself busy as you wait. Imagine the effect this can have on children who have mastered patience. They will scream less, cry less, paint more, watch TV or even sing and sleep!

Trust- It is said that it takes a lifetime to build trust, but it only takes a few minutes to destroy it. Trust is when you literally give up a part of yourself to someone with the hope that they will never let you down no matter what. The thing with trust is, once it is broken, it is very had to repair. Time heals the wounds and the hurt felt but things are never the same again. You will doubt the trust breaker and trust breaker will always have to re-affirm whatever it is that they are saying. The cycle is tiring to say the least. To avoid the cycle, being honest is the key. Honesty never covers up a lie. Honesty has a solid Yes or No and avoids maybe. We manipulate the truth when we don’t live up to our expectations. We are caught between keeping our word and creating alibis as to why we are not able to honor our word. Trust in children needs to be cultivated at an early stage. It is a two phased process. First, a child needs to know that they can talk to you. They need an assurance that you will never judge them and aggravate their already ‘feeling bad’ state any further. The second phase advocates that the child should learn to trust himself/herself in all situations. This is the most important phases of trust since this is where trust for people and the world emanate from.


Benefits of Mindfulness for children

Mindfulness helps children gain an understanding of relationships – Through mindfulness, children are able to bond with their friends, family and society. They are able to gain insight into what a healthy relationship entails. They are also able to discern what people’s intentions are and are able to make independent decisions.

Mindfulness helps to create self-awareness – Children are able to know who they are. They are able to connect with their inner beings. They understand that it is what they believe about themselves that counts more than what people tell them.

Mindfulness cultivates respect in children – Children learn that acceptance breeds respect and love. They honor the fact that it is their differences that make the World a brilliant and lovely place to live in.

Mindfulness makes forgiveness easy – Through mindfulness, children learn about letting go. They appreciate that at times things are not meant to be the way they want them to be. They learn the art of forgiving and not allowing things to stick on them.

Mindfulness nurtures trust in children – Children learn that trust and worry don’t co-exist. They are able to gainfully understand what trust is and what it entails and how one can cultivate trust.

How to be a Mindful Parents

  • Be present for your child
  • Find the balance between love and discipline
  • Trust your intuition
  • Look for a balance in situations
  • Imagine things from your child’s perspective
  • Take some time to meditate every day, even if for a short period of time
  • Practice mindful listening
  • Observe your own behavior as much as  you observe your child’s behavior
  • Look after yourself
  • Be light-hearted

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Adeline Loong holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Education from Edith Cowan University in Perth and a Diploma in Business Administration from Swinburne University in Melbourne. She is also a certified Trainer for the Australian Child Care Academy in Perth where Adeline trained teachers and was involved in advanced education research. Before joining Montessori Academy, she had worked in Malaysia, Australia and Hong Kong as an Educator. Adeline have more than 15 years of experience in lecturing and developing curriculum for early learners.

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