Why do parent/carers need mindfulness ?

Is parenting stressful?

Almost 3 out of 4 parents said ‘parenting was one of their biggest challenges ’ according to the Zeros to Threes survey carried out recently.

Less than half of parents, 48% reported getting the support they needed when they felt overwhelmed. With the pressure to work, manage the house, juggle finances, and look after children, it really can be very stressful.

Unfortunately, stress is contagious and children feel and sense when parents/ carers are stressed, overwhelmed, or tense. So it is important that we as adults can demonstrate how we can manage our stress to our children.

Being a good role model means learning to manage stress. It does not mean we will be perfect all the time and learning to be mindful takes practice and acknowledging the small changes without being negative.

Mindfulness is one strategy that can reduce stress. It does not mean that we will never get angry or frustrated, but in time we will learn to pause before reacting during stressful situations or times. Being mindful teaches us to be gentle on ourselves and not to judge ourselves too harshly.

Mindfulness is when we are thinking about what we are doing right now. Ignoring the past or the future, we just think about the present. Mindfulness practice can include anything from yoga to meditation, and even washing the dishes. Practicing mindfulness can be practiced anytime, anywhere. Even just one minute of active mindfulness is better than none at all. Mindfulness focuses on conscious awareness of the present moment: by focusing our attention and controlling our breath, we can learn to reduce stress and optimize the learning capacity of the brain.

Principles of mindfulness:

Self-awareness- assessing our feelings, interests, value, and strength.

Self-management- regulating emotions to handle stress, control impulses and persevere in overcoming obstacles.

Social awareness- understanding different perspectives and empathizing with others, recognizing and appreciating similarities and differences, using family, setting, and community.

Relationship skills- maintaining healthy relationships based on cooperation, love, and kindness.

Responsible decision making- using a variety of considerations.

Be grateful- gratitude helps develop happiness.

A very simple but effective strategy to help us remain calm is to simply slow things down and breathe.

Stop-Take a breath-Observe-Proceed

By stopping/pausing for a short while it helps us calm down. Taking a breath also helps us remain in control. Observing helps us to evaluate the situation with less emotion, therefore helping us be less reactive. Proceed when you feel ready. This strategy is very useful in stressful situations.

As mentioned before being a parent/carer is not always easy and we are not perfect. Mindfulness can help make peace with our imperfections. Help us begin to regulate our emotional state, helping us be calmer and more present for our children as well as cultivating some self-compassion.

Talk to your child and openly discuss feelings and emotions in a child-friendly way.

Be the calm you want to see in your child

Parenting isn’t about doing right or wrong. It is about doing it more effectively. Learn ways to include mindfulness with yourself and your child, to help reduce stress and create positivity.

Find a place and a time to relax on a regular basis even if it for a few minutes a day. Once you have found a time to be mindful try and be consistent.

Give yourself lots of praise for your efforts.

Being your own best friend really is part of being mindful.

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