by: Abbey Herringshaw, Karina G. Campos, Psy.D., Rachel Christensen & Suzi Naguib, Psy.D. Blog PDF
A small argument has become a full-scale blowout. Again. Imagine that you, as many parents do, have just asked your child to clean his or her room. Your child ignores your request or simply says, “No.” You are not surprised by this response, and may respond angrily, “Why is this always such a struggle? Why do you never do what I ask?” The child is expecting this response, and has his or her own retort ready to launch. And so it begins…
Automatic reactions in parent-child interactions. A cycle of automatic reactions between parents and children tends to occur when challenging situations arise. These reactions often play out with little conscious awareness and can be very resistant to change. By consistently drawing upon the same behaviors used in the past, both a parent and child may tend to react more strongly than what is warranted in the situation at hand. This can lead to repeated, overly negative parent-child interactions, often resulting in both parties feeling frustrated or even resentful. Mindful parenting has been shown to help break these cycles while helping to create more positive parent-child interactions.
What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is described as paying full attention and having a nonjudgmental awareness of what is happening in the present moment. Being mindful of situations increases awareness of thoughts and feelings and allows an individual to appreciate that what is happening in the current moment will pass and subsequently be replaced by the next moment. This awareness also enables one to be more flexible and accepting of the events that unfold around them and helps one to make clear-headed decisions, even in heated and emotionally charged moments. Individuals who practice cultivating mindful awareness report experiencing decreased depression, anxiety, and relationship stress (Duncan, Coatsworth & Greenberg, 2009).
What is mindful parenting? Mindful parenting incorporates mindfulness into everyday interactions to help build secure attachments and allow parents to engage in a more calm and consistent manner with their children. Duncan et al. (2009) proposed a model of mindful parenting that draws from empirical research about mindfulness-based interventions. It consists of five main steps:
What are the benefits of mindful parenting?
Mindful parenting can help increase enjoyment in the parent child relationship and contribute to greater trust, increased positive interactions, and less parental stress(Duncan et al., 2009). Furthermore, mindful parenting can also be beneficial for parents of children who have developmental, emotional and/or behavioral difficulties. Singh et al. (2006) found that using mindful parenting techniques with children diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder can have positive effects, including decreased aggression and noncompliance as well as increased satisfaction in the parent child relationship.