New School Year: 5 Tips for Mindful Parenting
The goal of mindful parenting is to create a space where our children can live in the present moment without judgment or an attachment to the past or future. Mindful parenting allows room for the expression of feelings and needs which can lead to improved focus, increased creativity and effective communication.
The start of a new school year can be stressful, but practicing mindful parenting can make this transition easier for both children and parents.
Here are my top 5 tips for mindful parenting as we enter a new school year.
Be intentional and specific with communication. Ask your child open-ended questions rather than questions that can be answered in one word. Instead of “How was your day?” or “Did you have a good day?” try, “Tell me about something you did that was fun today” or “Tell me a little bit about your lunch period.”
Listen without judgment and avoid fix-it mode. Help your child feel heard and understood by using reflective listening, asking for clarification and offering empathy and compassion. If they are struggling with an issue, resist the temptation to solve their problem and instead offer support and guidance and allow them the necessary space for creativity and problem solving.
Focus on what is working rather than what isn’t working. This technique asks us to step back from negativity bias, which is our tendency to focus on what is wrong rather than what is right. Helping our children identify their strengths and focus on what is working for them in the present moment can reduce rumination and negative self-talk allowing them to feel more confident, motivated and grounded in the current moment.
Focus on gratitude and appreciation. Research shows that the expression of gratitude is strongly correlated with self-reports of happiness. Encourage your child to express gratitude regularly by creating a family routine centered around gratitude. This practice can be as simple as sharing two things one is grateful for on the ride to school or at dinner time.
Practice and model digital mindfulness. Help your child create structure and boundaries around their digital usage. Create digital free zones at home, such as the dinner table or during family movie nights, set limits on digital usage at night to foster positive sleep habits and talk to them about their feelings related to social media.
Using these mindful parenting strategies will allow for more ease and openness in communication as both parents and children navigate the stressors that come with a new school year.
Michelle Fraley, MA, WPCC