Kara Vermaak. Provisional Psychologist
As a parent, it's understandable that you want to be the best caregiver you can be for your child, but often parents find themselves busy, tired, overwhelmed and unable to connect with their children in the way they’d love to.
It's important to remember that it’s not about being a perfect parent, but trying to be a more mindful parent. Being a mindful parent is about being present and compassionate with yourself and your child, and this takes practice.
Practicing mindfulness as a parent can be a powerful tool for enriching your relationship with your child and fostering a deeper sense of connection and understanding. By being more present with your child and practicing non-judgmental awareness, you can create a safe and supportive space for them to explore and grow.
Here are 3 steps to being a more mindful parent:
1. Practice self-care
As a parent, it can be easy to get caught up in the demands of daily life and neglect your own wellbeing. However, taking care of yourself is essential for being a mindful parent. Make time for activities that nourish your mind and body, such as exercise, eating healthy, or spending time in nature. By prioritizing your own well-being, you'll be better equipped to be present with your children.
2. Practice active listening
Mindful parenting involves being fully present and engaged with your children. One way to do this is to practice active listening. This means giving your full attention to your child when they're speaking, without interrupting or rushing them. Listen to their words, tone, and body language, and respond with empathy and understanding. By truly listening to your child, you can deepen your connection with them and help them feel seen and heard.
3. Practice non-judgmental awareness
Mindful parenting involves being aware of your own thoughts and emotions, as well as those of your child. Rather than reacting to challenging situations, try to approach them with non-judgmental awareness. This means observing your own thoughts and emotions without judgment or criticism, and responding with kindness and compassion. By modelling this kind of awareness and acceptance for your child, you can help them develop a healthy relationship with their own thoughts and emotions.
Remember to be gentle with yourself as you cultivate your mindfulness practice. It's okay if you have moments of distraction or judgment - that's all part of the learning process. The important thing is to approach each moment with curiosity and compassion, and to continue practicing even when it feels a little challenging.
For more support, please reach out and book an appointment with one of our friendly psychologists
Kara Vermaak. Provisional Psychologist
We all have thoughts, that’s part of what makes us human. Sometimes these thoughts are pleasant and helpful, but sometimes they’re unhelpful and unpleasant. Our natural response may be to want to get rid of those unhelpful thoughts as soon as we can. Why would we choose to feel pain and discomfort?
Unfortunately, trying to control these thoughts often has the opposite effect. They just keep coming back.
Imagine you’re throwing a party. Everyone is having a great time, but there’s this one unwelcome, uninvited and somewhat obnoxious person who shows up at your house. You’ve decided to take charge, and show them out the door. But despite your best efforts to get rid of them, they keep finding a way back into your house. You become increasingly agitated as you see them annoying your guests, but they just won’t stay away.
You soon realise that trying to get rid of them is futile. So what could you do instead?
1. Recognize the guest: Just like you would recognize the unwelcome party guest, recognise the unhelpful thought without judgment. Acknowledge that it's there and that it's causing you discomfort or distress.
2. Accept the guest's presence: Rather than trying to force the guest out, accept that they're there for now. Recognize that, just like the guest at the party, the unhelpful thought may stick around for a while, even if you don't want it to.
3. Observe the guest without judgment: Instead of getting caught up in the guest's behaviour, observe them without judgement. Notice what they're doing and saying, but focus on what you’re doing instead.
4. Let the guest be: Just like you might let the unwelcome party guest be, let the unhelpful thought be. Don't try to change it or control it, just observe it and let it exist without getting caught up in it.
Eventually, you find that you’re so busy having fun, that you’ve forgotten all about the unwelcome guest, and your friends don’t seem too bothered by them either. After a while, they get bored, say goodbye and leave.
Remember that just like an unwelcome party guest, unhelpful thoughts may arrive uninvited and unwanted, but they don’t have to define your experience. By accepting their existence and letting them be, they eventually pass by as just another thought.
Book an appointment with Kara or one of our friendly psychologists