We all want our children to be well-rounded. Aside from being attentive and independent, we also want them to be compassionate and kind. They first learn these traits from us. Unfortunately, the fast-paced life we live in today can make it difficult for us to be careful of what we say or do in the presence of our kids. We all have those words or actions we want to take back. (We almost always regret it when we yell at our kids.) And while we know there is no perfect parenting style, and we are okay to be a "good enough'' parent, we do want to make sure our kids get the best from us. So what can help?
Mindful parenting, suggests Susan Kaiser Greenland, author of The Mindful Child. In her TEDxTalk, Kaiser Greenland shares that we need to imbibe what she calls the new "ABCs" of learning -- attention, balance, and compassion.
PRESS PAUSE The first thing we need to learn is to stop. We are so busy sometimes that we end up just doing things for the sake of getting them done. We need to learn how to "stop and think," as well as "stop and feel, and then think." The next time your preschooler whines about tying his shoes, don't automatically give in and do it for him. Stop, find out the reason why he needs you, and assess if he really needs your help or he's just looking for attention.
LEARN TO FOCUS We are proud multitaskers, but many distractions bombard us. To be mindful of our words and actions as parents, we need to stop (as above) and learn how to choose which ones need our attention.
"Focusing and choosing go hand in hand. We focus our attention, and then we choose what we’re going to focus on – and we want to be choosing what we're going to focus on wisely," Kaiser Greenland said. "The moment you noticed you're distracted, that's a moment of mindful awareness, because you know what your mind is," she explained.
KNOW WHAT YOU ARE FEELING We all get all sorts of feelings, and one thing about mindfulness you should remember is that it’s not about changing, fixing, or hiding emotions. "It's about noticing your emotions and being able to turn in and look at them with the intention to understand -- not to judge," Kaiser Greenland said.
"When the emotional part of the brain gets loud, it’s really hard for the problem-solving part of the brain to do its work," she explains. However, it can work the other around, too. Focusing on the problem-solving part of our brain can overpower the emotional part. “When the emotional part of the brain is quiet, then the problem-solving part of the brain can seem to work clearly," Kaiser Greenland said.
Learning how to identify what you're feeling (saying it loud -- "I am feeling ____ " -- can already help) will quiet the mind, allowing you to see what you can do or where you are needed.
SEE YOURSELF MAKE A CONNECTION You're getting to know yourself when you pause, pay attention, and articulate your emotions. When you achieve that emotional balance, it makes you understand other people better.
"The more we understand [ourselves], the more we can understand other people. And the more understand other people, the more we can understand ourselves and have caring and connected relationships," Kaiser Greenland stressed.
Mindful parenting takes practice, but you see it pay off for your kids as they follow your lead and display the traits most needed in life.
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To watch to Susan Kaiser Greenland's TedxTalk in full, click here.