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We’ve all been there – at a certain point in our childhood, when we’ve messed up, our parents have scolded us. These bitter memories may be embedded in the back of our minds, without our knowledge. And when we finally have kids, before we even realise it, we exercise the same parenting principles based on our past experiences.
Conscious parenting is a level above that – it’s about stepping beyond our comfort zones, our preconceived notions, and being open to new ways of thinking and perceiving, even if those new concepts don’t align with our perspectives and past experiences. We talk more about conscious parenting below and how it benefits the family, overall.
What is Conscious Parenting?
Conscious parenting is about being aware of your own emotions and responding to your child’s as well. It’s about being awakened enough to see your child as a human being or as he is, instead of imposing your preconditioned worldviews and belief systems on him.
A conscious parent isn’t a restrictive parent or a parent who lets their child do whatever he wants with no consequences. It’s about being understanding, mindful, and providing the mental and emotional space your child needs to truly grow.
What Are the Benefits of Being a Conscious Parent?
There are many benefits to being a conscious parent. Some of them are:
- You become more in tune with your emotions – You stop reacting and start responding. That’s a huge step.
- Your child notices the change in your behaviour – When your child starts noticing that you no longer overreact and start being responsive and calm to whatever he does, he starts to get curious and listen. His respect and admiration towards you grows since you keep your calm.
- You create a positive environment – When you become mindful and your child starts picking up on it, you create an environment for growth and positivity. You become more open with your kid, and he doesn’t feel scared to be himself and act the way he wants. In other words, he doesn’t have to put on a different mask in front of you out of fear or negative emotions.
How to Be a Conscious Parent
If you want to become a conscious parent, here’s how to get started:
1. Start practising mindfulness.
Spend a few minutes a day doing absolutely nothing. Just get your quiet and alone time and learn to appreciate it. If you’re not aware of your emotions and how you act, you won’t be aware of your child’s either.
2. Detach from previous parenting patterns.
Learn to recognise the moments when you had previously mimicked your parents’ behaviours. You are you, so avoid parenting like someone else and be yourself.
3. Give yourself 3 seconds.
Whenever you find yourself in a situation when your child has done something wrong, and you’re close to blowing up, calm down, breathe, and give yourself 3 seconds before responding. This should help you centre yourself and get things in perspective.
4. Actively listen.
When your child speaks, do not interrupt him no matter what. Listen to whatever he has to say and respond when he is done. ‘Listen more and talk less’ should be your new mantra.
5. Lower your expectations.
Remember what we said about not imposing your beliefs on your child? The same goes for your expectations. Learn to manage them and don’t force your child to adhere to them. Allow your child to grow into the person he is meant to be, not what you picture in your head.
6. Encourage mistakes.
Teach your child to make more mistakes and not to be afraid of failure whenever he tackles new projects. When he feels bad, ask him to breathe and let the emotion pass, and not to judge himself or obsess over every detail that went wrong.
7. Behave the same way you want to be treated by others.
Imagine how you want to be treated by others. Now, behave the same way with your child and respond instead of reacting.
8. Make positive routines.
Positivity doesn’t take over the household overnight. You have to establish routines to kick-start those changes. Kids feel more secure when they have routines and habits in place.
9. Eat well.
This may seem like an unorthodox tip, but mental clarity is also influenced by what you put on the plate. Be mindful of what you eat and eat natural foods, not processed ones. This will help you and your child stay healthy and more at peace in the long run.
10. Practice gratitude.
Be sure to thank your child and be grateful for his contribution, and praise him whenever he does a job well, even if it’s something as simple as doing a piece of homework.
11. Be empathetic.
Talk to your kid and ask him how his day went. If something went wrong, ask about it and let him describe how he felt. You want to be a pillar of support, ideally.
12. Share responsibilities.
Sharing responsibilities and chores, and being a friend to your child creates a safe, loving, and positive environment. That’s key to conscious parenting.
Things You Should Avoid Doing When Practising Conscious Parenting
Here’s what not to do when you take steps to move forward in your journey towards conscious (or mindful) parenting.
1. Yelling and Screaming
If your child does something wrong and you yell at him for that, it makes the situation worse. Your child loses respect for you and won’t listen in the process.
2. Punishing Him
Exiling him to the quiet corner of the room, slapping him, or giving out punishment of any form is wrong. It creates resentment on the inside and makes your child more likely to repeat the mistake again.
3. Imposing Your Beliefs
Your child has the right to believe in what he wants. Don’t force your beliefs on him based on your past experiences. It sounds harsh, but that’s the truth.
4. Being too Hasty
If you’re not sure of how to respond in a particular situation, don’t react suddenly. That makes the situation volatile or worse.
5. Not Giving It Enough Time
Changes don’t happen overnight, and you’ll have to patient. If you’re trying to force things, it’ll show through your emotions, and your child will detect your impatience. This could make them close up even more.
The key to conscious parenting is being a kind, gentle, and understanding human. You become more aware and learn to take things easy, thereby creating a beautiful bond between you and your child.