Becoming a more mindful parent

Life right now as I try to be a more mindful parent

In follow-up to my last post.

This girl just wants mama's love.
This girl just wants mama’s love.

My daughter continues to have meltdowns, but the frequency is noticeably less (unless she doesn’t get enough sleep, then it’s Meltdown City and she’s mayor).  Moreover, the BEST part has been the length of time spent crying has dropped significantly. I never liked hearing her wail, it broke my heart, so this is a really nice alternative; however, the approach of mindfulness requires a lot more thought and effort than simply putting her in time out until she calms down.  It’s easier on my heart though.

I have read loads of parenting books (always looking for new techniques) The Mindful Parent is on my nightstand right now.  I was so enthralled with it, I stayed up an hour later than usual to keep reading (and I usually fall asleep after 10 minutes of reading).

This book talks about helping your kids have good hearts (what they were born with).  This book is really heavy on attachment parenting, but I think attachment parenting is just what most of the world has always done before Western culture gave it a label.  This book was researched in Bali, Bhutan, and Japan (and many other cultures) and they talk about how the children feel very secure and loved in those cultures and they grow up to be incredibly kind, compassionate and happy people.  The Bhutanese and Balinese talk about helping children listen to themselves inside and find their kindness.  The author, Dr. Charlotte Peterson, gave an example of when a little boy snatched a balloon from his cousin.  The cousin started crying and the little boy’s mother said, “Did you want to make your cousin cry?”  He shook his head.  Mom then asked, “Can you think of something that will make her happy again?”  The little boy looked down at the balloon in his hands, then ran over and handed it to his cousin.  He was praised for his cleverness and it was a win-win situation.  Instead of making the boy feel shame, resent, or anger he was reinforced for being clever, generous and kind.  I love this example and I realized I sort of do this now.  Esther currently takes a toy from her sisters, and then immediately gives them another toy to play with so they don’t get upset.  I thought Esther was just being manipulative to get what she wants, but now I praise her for being kind, generous, and thoughtful too.  I like the win-win situation this presents.

ANYWAY, I am going to give the kindness/compassion approach a shot because it feels more natural and organic to me than going to war over her emotions. In the past, I would walk away when she started to cry when she was upset. I have never felt good about leaving her crying all alone while she’s screaming, “Mama, come talk to me!  Why aren’t you talking to me?”  By leaving, I was teaching her I would desert her when she was in distress.  She’s allowed to have feelings!

I was torn about what to do because giving her attention for this behavior is not the “Positive Parenting” way. But if it doesn’t feel right to me, then I’m not going to do it, ya know?   Even though I may not understand or agree with why she’s upset, she deserves validation.  It’s meaningful to her.

The parenting lesson I learned: life is always changing, being mindful stays the same

Parenting is fluid and I have to adapt to what my kids need. Ignoring her is not mitigating her behavior, it makes me feel awful, and it’s just lose-lose all around.  I prefer to give my daughter more love and compassion when she’s crying.  Helping her see the goodness inside of her sounds much more in line with what she needs from me.  This is working for her – which means my younger girls will probably need a completely different approach as they get older!

What I need to remember is they are all their own little people. I do not want to forget they are individuals (even though two of them are identical twins).  One size parenting does not fit all.

So please tell me what you have found to be helpful because I am open to suggestion!

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