Joanne Jewell, Dubai-based parenting coach at Mindful Me offers her insights on why Mindful Parenting works
1) What is mindful parenting?
It is about choosing to be a parent with awareness of your child’s emotions and your own, being present in the now (both emotionally and physically) and role modelling - managing your own feelings and behaviour whilst being compassionate to the mistakes we make and the journey our children are on.
2) How different is it from the other styles of parenting?
It’s not about aiming for perfection or always getting it right - that’s just not possible and leads to a lot of frustration and anxiety. A lot of parenting strategies miss the focus on role-modelling and instead focus on what they do rather than what they are.
3) Who devised it?
Jon Kabat-Zinn is considered to be the forefather of modern-day mindfulness and has also focused on parenting with mindfulness. He has provided us with 9 foundational attitudes of mindfulness and these are the main aspects of Mindful Parenting too:
* Beginners mind
* Letting go
Can mindful parenting be taught/learned?
Absolutely! We are all on a journey of learning and developing and Mindful Parenting is part of this experience - there is no quick fix. It can take a lot of practice to become more mindful, but parents tell me the impact is huge and they can often see a difference at home very quickly as the change is in them and their behaviour.
I’ve been teaching Mindful Parenting for over 10 years and practising with my own children for 24 years. I’ve seen a huge reduction in anxiety in children when parents practise being more mindful and this can [positively impact] sleep issues, focus, eating behaviours, social interactions, co-operation and learning as these can all be affected by anxiety.
ONE SITUATION, MINDFUL PARENTING APPROACH
A child is in a store and insists on buying something and upon being refused, throws a tantrum. How would a mindful parent respond?
A lot would depend on the age of the child as this hugely affects their ability to be aware of and manage their feelings as well as their ability to understand and remember any boundaries set by parents before entering the store.
Toddlers are developmentally egocentric so they are focused on their own needs. So you can’t reason with them.
A Mindful Parent would be aware of this so they would connect with their child and acknowledge that it’s difficult to see something you want and not be able to have it (show empathy), be present with the child’s feelings of frustration and stay calm, accepting that once the child is in the throes of big emotions, it’s not possible to reason with them. If the parent does not judge and try to reason and instead is present with compassion, the child will calm down - how long this takes could depend on many things. For example, if the child is tired, hungry, has been told No a lot already that day.
But parents must trust that it will happen.
Once the child has calmed down, give them a hug and then help them to leave the store. Many parents struggle with practising this in public as they feel uncomfortable about others’ judgement so they blame the child, get cross and this makes it worse.