Mindful Tips to Improve your Relationship with your Child

Sound Familiar? 

It’s been a stressful day and you can’t wait to go home to relax. Stepping through your front door, you nearly fall as you stumble over your son’s skateboard. You become instantly irritated, and as if it’s automatic, you’ve yelled at your son to come downstairs. You find yourself having the same argument you’ve already had three times this week, and after the argument, nothing has changed and you’re both upset. Sound familiar? Be it missed curfews, unfinished chores or messy habits, these recurring and seemingly small arguments can have detrimental effects on the relationships with your children, plus foster feelings of unhappiness in the household.
The Problem with Automatic Behaviors
It’s that moment when, without even thinking, we’ve become upset and yelled our child’s name, unconsciously initiating the argument. While automatic behaviors can be helpful, they can also create a cycle of detrimental reactions - for instance, yelling at your son as soon as you see his skateboard lying around. These behaviors may be automatic or stem fromparent-focused desire for control. 

A Mindful Approach

A mindfulness practice can enable you to gain perspective, see the whole picture, and determine whether you truly need control. It can even help break the cycle of automatic behaviors, empowering you to pause to think about the best course of action. Medeiros and colleagues found that mindful parenting can help a child feel more secure in the relationship, increasing the child’s well-being, while Turpyn and Chaplin noted it could indirectly reduce youth’s rate of substance use. 

Becoming a Mindful Parent

May and colleagues assessed the effects of an eight-week child-parent mindfulness course involving a shared mindfulness practice and individual tasks at home. They found increases in parents’ neural activity in areas relating to self-awareness, emotional perception and emotional processing - making parents more aware of the present and more mindful of their child’s perspective. They also found a positive relationship between the amount of time parents spent practicing and how positive their child perceived their relationship - another reason to keep practicing.