There’s no way to escape it – the word “mindfulness” is popping up EVERYWHERE in the wellness space. And now, it’s showing up in the parenting space as well.
As a new mom, I have been following the trend of “mindful parenting” and “conscious parenting” quite closely. While the two are similar, they are not exactly interchangeable. But they do have one thing in common: I find them both to be immensely helpful when trying to pinpoint my parenting style.
According to Tamara Iglesias, a conscious parenting coach and owner of Wellynest, describes mindful parents as, “being present in the moment, not being attached to outcomes, and really opening your heart in a non-judgmental way to what is unfolding in front of you with your child.”
Furthermore, she describes conscious parenting as having a powerful focus on what you, as the conscious parent, are bringing to the relationship.
“Are you coming to the relationship with old wounds, insecurities, or childhood trauma that has affected your belief systems and are now affecting your child’s nervous system?” she asks. “Conscious parenting is the awareness of self in the parenting journey, understanding your limiting beliefs, triggers, lack of personal boundaries, etc. and how it is affecting the way you interact with your child.”
Benefits of mindful parenting
According to Iglesias, who coaches parents on conscious parenting, “the benefits are endless. There is so much value to stepping onto the conscious parenting journey. It’s an opportunity to heal, an opportunity to evolve, an opportunity to gift your child a life free from your own limiting beliefs, fears, insecurities and more.”
She continues, “conscious parenting enables a child to be treated as a whole being, to feel trusted and respected by their parents, it cultivates a deep self worth in children, who then grow up feeling worthy of healthy relationships, deep connections, success, prosperity and so much more.”
Iglesias also points to how mindful parenting strengthens the parent-child bond by allowing a child to feel safe when expressing his or her emotions.
“[Conscious parenting] removes guilt and shame from the parenting journey, which fosters a future relationship with parent and child that truly thrives,” she says.
In theory, conscious and mindful parenting both sound like great ways to parent, and it’s entirely possible to use both methods cohesively. However, implementing these methods can be somewhat of a challenge.
So, together with some experts, I put together a few mindfulness tips for new parents who want to practicing conscious parenting.
Start with your breath
Dr. Anna Kress, clinical psychologist, advises you to start by becoming aware of your breath when you are feeling triggered or stressed when parenting.
“When we’re feeling emotionally triggered, we tend to hold our breath,” she explains. “In order to calm our stress response and not react, taking a few deep breaths with a longer exhale can quickly get us into a more mindful state. The magic is in the exhale, so be sure to extend it.”
Try mindfulness meditation
Dr. Kress also advises new parents to try mindfulness meditation.
“Mindfulness meditation can help us expand our window of tolerance to vulnerability. It’s not just about sensing things in the present moment. It’s also about developing the ability to sit with uncomfortable emotions.”
These mindfulness tips for new parents especially apply when your toddler is having a meltdown.
“Apps such as Headspace and Calm are helpful if you’re new to the practice. Just a few minutes goes a long way when you practice consistently over time,” she advises,
Examine your reactions
Iglesias advises you to examine your reactions to your child’s behavior.
“How are you communicating to your child? Are you slowing down, are you giving them your undivided attention when they speak and share? Are you making eye contact? Do you validate their needs, requests and concerns?” she asks.
“If all these are being done, your child will communicate with YOU in a much more respectful way. If they are not communicating to you in this way, I would first look at your communication to them. Because children mirror their parents and caregivers so much, communication is learned through what they receive daily.”
Practice age-appropriate communication
Iglesias also explains that when coming from a conscious parenting angle, it is important to speak with as much detail as age-appropriate.
“When parents speak in fragments or not full sentences it is less respectful, there are less details and typically a child is less engaged or interested,” she shares. “Take the time to slow down, get on their level, look them in the eye, and reconnect with them first. Then, communicate in a clear and respectful way, including as much detail as necessary and age appropriate for your child.”
Give yourself a little compassion
Lastly, Dr. Kress guides you to lean toward mindful self-compassion because being a parent is HARD WORK.
“Mindful self-compassion is mindfulness that focuses on being kind to ourselves, especially when we’re struggling,” she tells us. “Research shows that practicing self-compassion is associated with emotional intelligence and life satisfaction and inversely related to anxiety, depression, self-criticism, and perfectionism. Mindful self-compassion can be especially helpful for parents because of the daily challenges that parenting presents. To start having more compassion for yourself, try putting your hand on your heart when stressed and speaking kindly to yourself.”
Which one of these mindfulness tips for new parents will you try? Let us know in the comments!