Parenting can be busy, loud, silly, and chaotic at times. Life can be under any circumstances, but if you live with toddlers, kids, t'weens, or teens then you really know! A mindfulness practice can help anyone find some stillness, simplicity, and quiet in an otherwise noisy world, home, or mind. And it can look different to different people: there is no one way to practice mindful parenting. In my experience as a child and family therapist in NYC I have found that looking for ways to help parents and kids connect to each other and their environment is key. Parenting is a constant opportunity to be creative and open if we allow it to be.
Nature is all around us but depending on where we live we may forget about this. Walking in boots on sidewalks it is ease to not remember the dirt and earth beneath our feet. Kids, young children especially, can be so curious about the natural world around them. It's so easy as a parent to brush these things aside or treat it like a teachable moment. But next time you or your child sees something awe inspiring in nature really take it in. Feel your feet on the earth, the sky above you, and then whatever is catching your eye really look and wonder about it before you label it or explain it or move on to the next thing. See it, feel it, and allow yourself to wonder.
As a child and family therapist in NYC, I do a lot of work helping children and parents listen to one another and be heard. How and what we say can have a huge impact on another person so building in some reflecting tools about our speech (kids and adults alike) can be very helpful. THINK before you speak is a saying I heard as a child but no one ever broke that down for me. So next time you are having a heated argument or your just don't think the other person you're talking to is understanding or hearing you think for a moment before you speak and ask: is what I'm about to say...
And if it is chances are it needs to be said but if it isn't true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, or kind than maybe just maybe it doesn't need to be said out loud or perhaps it can be said in another way.
[ Want more Parenting Tips? Read also: How Neurofeedback Helps Us Be Flexible Parents ]
Seeing, hearing, smelling, listening, and touching are sense activities that are happening all the time. Think about the beauty of a colorful sunset, hearing your favorite song on the radio, or the taste of fresh lemonade on a hot day; all possibly very striking and pleasant experiences. But no matter what is happening around us our five sense can be a gateway to a more fully awake moment. So the next time your child demands a snack, take a moment to have that snack with her and really see, feel, smell, taste and maybe even try to hear your food!
Mindfulness, just like parenting, can be looked at like a great experiment. Not something that you need to master or get right, but something you can be open and curious about. People practice mindfulness and people could practice parenting so why not practice mindful parenting!?
Alison Pepper is a NYC Therapist and a Neurofeedback Trainer working with families and children dealing with mental health issues; with an emphasis on trauma informed work. She's a bilingual therapist for over five years (fluent in both English and Spanish), SIFI certified, and a meditation teacher. She recently became a Certified NeurOptimal Neurofeedback Trainer at Neurofeedback Training Co. in New York City.
“I believe all people have the tools to heal ourselves; grow, learn, and reach our full potential. No matter what your age or life circumstances therapy is a safe space to do that work.”