Finding peace amid chaos is more possible than you think.
About the Author: Mindful Parenting Educator Michelle Gale, MA, is a former head of learning and leadership development for Twitter. She now teaches parents to better connect with their kids by first connecting with themselves. Michelle is the author of the new book “Mindful Parenting in a Messy World.”
I often feel stress and anxiety that I’m not a good mom. I worry about my actions and words. And when things don’t go my way or as expected, I worry even more that I might be screwing up my kids. Sound familiar?
A tantrum at the grocery store, a messy house when you get home from work, a serious problem with grades or school – life will challenge us as parents over and over again. We can count on it.
How can we learn to embrace every experience, whether pleasant or unpleasant? How can we learn to meet each moment with a sort of equanimity and stop taking each ‘bad parent moment’ so personally? To me, that’s what mindful parenting is all about.
Mindfulness is a compassionate act of allowing inner and outer experience to arise moment by moment with a clear, non-judgmental awareness. Mindful parenting is a practice to bring mindful attention and awareness into our interactions with our children. For me, mindfulness and meditation are key to learning to be present for my family and others in my life.
Whether or not you’re a parent, you’ve probably experienced the feeling that your child (or someone close to you) is “pushing your buttons.” You feel your heart racing and your body going into fight-or-flight mode. What if, at this moment, you decided to take a pause to breathe deeply and observe your feelings? Instead of reacting, you decided to use this moment to find out more about what’s going on with yourself and your child.
Mindful Parenting Technique
If you are interested in mindful parenting, I recommend starting with a small, easy technique you can use for any situation or experience. Follow the acronym STOP:
- S — Stop. Pause. Don’t do or say anything else!
- T — Take a breath while focusing on a long exhale.
- O — Observe the emotion/feeling present. Label it. (Examples could be sad, frustrated, angry, confused, hurt, or scared.)
- P — Proceed. Now that you’re in a more responsive and less emotionally reactive mode, decide an action that is more tuned to your situation.
Practicing mindfulness is not a cure-all that will prevent you from ever losing it again in a stressful situations. However, it is an opportunity to learn how to use life’s messy moments to grow as an individual, as a parent, and together as a family.
Try the Simple Habit Mindful Parenting series, led by Michelle Gale. A 7-day introduction to practicing meditation in support mindful parenting. In this series, you will learn the basic techniques to focus on the breath, the body, your senses, emotions and compassion.
Share your journey and milestones with us, we care: firstname.lastname@example.org.