Mindful Parenting – How to Be Present For Your Children….in Less than Five Minutes a Day!
Mindfulness is a conscious choice. You can choose to reinforce neural pathways that are connected with feeling more happy and relaxed by focusing on the positive in any given situation and by practicing gratitude.
Compassion includes a sense of inter-connectedness and recognition of our common humanity. When we are willing to be vulnerable and share our experience with a safe listener, we can release tension and anxiety, feel closer, and even receive a boost of endorphins and serotonin. One way to create this compassionate connection is through Mindful Inquiry with yourself or with a partner by repeating the same statement several times, such as; “One thing you may not know about me as a mother is….”. There are ways to cultivate this kind of connection in our daily lives as well, opening up to someone who has earned the right to hear your story is a great place to start.
How can you give QUALITY attention to your child with limited time? Practice the “Gift of Presence” Exercise:
Step 1: Decide how long you are going to practice for, I recommend anywhere from one to five minutes, and set a timer for that amount of time. Decide to commit to this practice for a period of time and ignore all other distractions during this period.
Step 2: Sit quietly on the floor near your child facing him or her. Connect with your breathing, notice your inhale and exhale. Feel the floor underneath you. Take a few deep breaths to calm down and get centered. Then start the timer.
Step 3: Make ongoing eye contact with your child. Radiate appreciation for him/her, while remaining seated on the floor. If your child moves around, turn to face your child but do not stand up or do anything else. As you gaze at your child, see if you can practice the loop of awareness by giving attention to yourself (noticing your breathing), and then giving attention to your child (noticing what she/he is doing, think appreciative thoughts about her/him), giving attention to yourself (noticing your breathing), and then giving attention to your child (noticing what she/he is doing, think appreciative thoughts about her/him), and continue this loop, alternating between focusing on your breathing and focusing on your child.
Step 4: Notice if your mind is wandering or you are thinking of your To Do list, and come back to paying attention to your own breath, and then paying attention to your child. Smile and make eye contact with your child, you may also think appreciative thoughts about him/her but you do not need to share these aloud. For example, while gazing at your child, you might think of three things you appreciate about her/him.
Step 5: When the timer goes off, give yourself an imaginary pat on the back, say “well done” and thank your child for playing the “Gift of Presence” with you.
If you want to learn more of these tools, we’d love to have you join one of our upcoming Mindfulness Based Achievement programs, click below to read more:
To better understand self-compassion, read this excellent article by Kristin Neff, the leading self-compassion researcher: