Mindful parenting – How can being in the moment help me and my child by Gemma at The Happiness Branch

Mindfulness means ‘paying attention in the present moment non-judgementally’, this is the definition by Jon Kabat Zinn who is responsible for helping bring Mindfulness to the western world and into science, alongside Mindful Parenting which I will later focus on. There is loads of science and research around the benefits of Mindfulness, for example did you know it shrinks areas of the brain responsible for anxiety and stress and grow areas responsible for learning and problem solving? Pretty cool that you can actually change your brain.

So, what is Mindfulness and how can it help us as parents?

Mindfulness can be sitting and meditating or it can be mindful movement such as yoga, walking or bringing Mindfulness to everyday activities such as washing up, bringing in as many of the senses in these activities as you can. The most important element of practicing Mindfulness is non-judgement. I remember when I first started to learn Mindfulness I noticed how busy my mind was and how impatient I was just sitting and meditating when I had so much to do in my busy life. The amount of people who ask me questions about Mindfulness or feel they can’t do it, 99% of the time its because they are bringing judgement. Judgement about themselves ‘I can’t do this’, judgement about others ‘why can they do this’ and it was only letting this go that they were able to practice it. So, think about how you can be non-judgemental and be kind to yourself.

In terms of parenting, I was teaching a mindfulness class to a lovely group of ladies and one of them noticed that her little girl liked to count the numbers on the wheelie bins on the way to school and nursery and she would always rush her along, having rushed shoes and coats on etc. When she slowed down and noticed the numbers and noticed the things her children were noticing a bit like the wheelie bins, she got to school and nursery quicker in the mornings! Slowing down actually helped her speed up! The other mums in the group decided to try this and found similar benefits. I also found last year in an experiment I led, that it takes just 21 days of Mindfulness to make a habit. People who carried out a small amount of Mindfulness every day for 21 days were 9% more focused and aware, and coupled with other positive psychology activities were 15.3% happier and mindful overall.

So, some Mindfulness activities you can do with your children, I ran a parent and child Mindfulness session last year and these were very popular.

  • Calm jars – use this guide from my website and create pretty calm jars to help teach children about emotions and mindfulness. https://www.thehappinessbranch.com/calm-jars
  • Colouring is always a good one, I know I love a good colouring book myself! Discuss what happens when you/your child goes outside of the lines? Identify what judgements are happening and try and let them go, what thoughts come into your mind? Noticing what’s going on in the present moment.
  • Spiderman senses, this one is a fun one, pretending you are Spiderman to tune into your Spiderman senses! http://kidsrelaxation.com/uncategorized/spider-man-practicing-mindfulness-and-increasing-focus/
  • Headspace app – the headspace app has a kid’s section and there are different meditations tailored to each age group, worth a try!

For parents, how can we be more mindful and in the present moment? We can do the Spiderman senses activity (if anything it will make us giggle and I can tell you that alone will have beneficial effects on your brain) but seriously just checking in with your senses and asking what you see, hear, feel in that moment, even just taking a few moments a day. Remembering non-judgement, remembering you are human and ultimately just being kind to yourself is so important.

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The Happiness BranchIf you want to learn more about Mindfulness I’d love you to join me online on my complimentary Mindfulness live session on Facebook 7.30pm on the 30th August, follow ‘The Happiness Branch’ on Facebook for more details.

As a qualified Mindfulness teacher I also have a few spaces left on my 8 weeks of Mindfulness course, learn the tools to a more Mindful life in the comfort of your own home in a supportive online group environment: https://www.thehappinessbranch.com/book-online