As parents, we often know how we would like to respond to the challenges that arise when caring for our child, however, in the heat of the moment we tend to respond in a different way.
Raising a child can be a richly rewarding and fulfilling experience; it can also be exhausting, challenging and stressful. As our stress levels rise we tend to revert to well established automatic patterns of behaviour that don’t always serve the needs of our child, ourselves, or our relationships. Given that we cannot take all the stress out of parenting, it’s important that we take responsibility to equip ourselves with tools and techniques to manage our emotional states and rising stress levels. This can help you to move away from parenting on auto pilot, and to develop the capacity to pause and choose a different response.
Practicing mindfulness can help you learn to focus your attention and become more present to what is actually happening in the ‘here and now’. It can also help you become more aware of your automatic negative reactions and to slow down your reactivity. This then allows you the time and space to choose how you would prefer to respond.
You may still find yourself being triggered at times, however gradually your practice will help train you to notice when you start to lose it more quickly and use your ‘inner pause button’, so then your actions are calm, wise and loving more often. By connecting more deeply with yourself, you in turn connect more deeply with your child and family. More love, less drama.
Developing your capacity to focus your attention and awareness in this way is like exercising a muscle, it takes practice. Whilst finding time in a busy family schedule to commit to a mindfulness practice (or any other stress relieving activity) may seem impossible, the positive impact will far outweigh the time and effort.
You can view further information on how to be a more mindful parent view headspace’s and Australian Childhood Foundation’s resources. Don’t forget to keep an eye on /thenortherncentre Facebook page for information about upcoming parenting workshops.