Mindfulness: A Guide for Busy Parents

As a modern parent you may have heard several times that you should either implement mindfulness for yourself and/or your child(ren). The problem is, you probably have no idea how to fit “mindfulness” into your life, due to time constraints and knowledge of what mindfulness consists of. Below I have provided a variety of tips and suggestions for implementing mindfulness into your bust life.

Mindful Discipline

Discipline is NOT the same as punishment. Mindful Discipline focuses learning to understand your own emotions (private/covert behaviors) and triggers (antecedents), helping you build your ability to respond appropriately in aversive situations and environments.

Mindful Discipline Activities:

  1. Pause first (Stop before engaging in a behavior).
    If you’re tempted to yell or nag, take a breath first, and consider your options.
    Give your child a reminder (prompt) or a more detailed explanation of what you mean (e.g. what entails keeping their room clean).
  2. Think positive (Focus on your own thoughts and emotions).
    Focus on what your child is doing well, and not just the mistakes they are making.
    Focus on working together to find solutions (alternative behaviors) instead of reprimands (aversives).
  3. Listen closely.
    Let your child know that you’re willing to hear their side of the story, which should decrease their anxiety.
    Validate their feelings, even if you disagree with their behavior. Their feelings are their own private behaviors that were triggered, meaning they are not wrong, they were learned from your previous interactions.
  4. Prioritize your relationship and be flexible.
    Keep mishaps in perspective, as your relationship with your child is more important than any individual incident.
    Be willing to make exceptions to (modify) your own rules when it serves the greater good. Modifying results in compliance and making rules less aversive in the future.

Mindful Leisure

Despite us all having limited free time, mindful leisure can help you develop productive habits.

Developing mindful habits:

  1. Manage technology.
    Set time limits on when your child can access their electronic devices (i.e., TV, video games, and cell phones). Computer time should also be be given limits when it’s not related to school work.
    Turn off all devices at least an hour before bedtime to promote more restful sleep.
  2. Develop hobbies.
    Encourage your child to explore their interests. Hobbies can help reduce stress, express creativity, increase focus, and pick up new skills.
  3. Continue learning.
    Support your child’s motivation to learn. Most schools allow for parent volunteers (even high schools).
    For younger children, reading bedtime stories with them increases bonding time and help with separating them from electronics before they go to sleep.
  4. Encourage giving.
    Mindfulness and generosity reinforce each other as you experience the joys of giving. Volunteer as a family at a local animal shelter or food kitchen. Praise your child when they carry groceries for a neighbor or lend their notes to a classmate.

Mindful Parenting

Mindfulness is a way of life. Look for opportunities throughout your day to make conscious choices.

Habit building strategies:

  1. Eat together.
    Make family meals a regular habit. Designate at least one night when everyone has dinner together at the same time. This small step can help create a family tradition that lasts for years.
    Additionally, you can sit down for breakfast each morning as a family, if schedules permit.
  2. Create morning rituals.
    Start the day by sharing a practice that reminds you to stay mindful.
    Instead of turning on the TV when you first wake up, sit and talk with your children while you have your morning coffee.
    Have everyone state or write down at least one thing they are grateful for that day and one thing they want to accomplish.
  3. Meditate regularly.
    Seated meditation isn’t the only way to practice mindfulness, but its one of the best ways to get started learning to meditate.
    Once you can reliably engage in meditation appropriately, you can begin to work on brief mindfulness meditations, which only take 1-2-minutes of your time, and can be done anytime throughout your day, in a variety of settings.
    This will help dealing with stressful moments while still in the moment, allowing you and your children to accomplish more.
    Start out gradually so your children will enjoy it.
  4. Play games.
    Make your mindfulness sessions fun!
    You can use almost any activity that allows you to focus your attention and block out distractors. You can draw pictures, color images, listen to music, role play, or pray.
  5. Find an app.
    If you’re looking for more ideas, especially for brief duration mindfulness sessions, there’s a ton of apps. Just search your phone’s, or tablet’s, app store. There are many free meditation and mindfulness apps, with some of them are designed especially for parents and children.

App Suggestions (iOS & Android)

Free Apps

  1. Smiling Mind
  2. Stop, Breathe, Think
  3. UCLA Mindful
  4. Calm
  5. Mindfulness Coach

Apps with monthly/yearly subscriptions

  1. Buddhify ($)
  2. Aura ($)
  3. Headspace ($)
  4. The Mindfulness App ($)
  5. Sattva ($)
  6. Simply Being ($)

Mindfulness is one of the best tools you can teach your children! Once you start to build mindful habits, you can dive deeper into mindfulness and use it to handle everything from anxiety to pain!


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