Updated: Feb 6, 2020
If you have practiced mindfulness before then becoming a parent may be the perfect time to
revisit, or maybe the perfect opportunity to start practicing mindfulness. Used regularly it can provide an important set of skills to use when dealing with some of the most difficult situations being a parent can put you in.
Mindfulness can help people ‘ground’ themselves, or 'orientate' themselves in a situation.
Consider using the STOP method of mindful parenting. The steps are as follows:
Stop, take a pause.
Take a few deep breaths to calm the autonomic nervous system.
Observe, notice, and pay attention with curiosity and acceptance to your sensations, thoughts and emotions.
Proceed to respond from a clear mental state.
Yaffa Maritz, clinical psychologist and Co-founder/Director of the Community of Mindful Parenting, says mindful parenting is: "an ongoing intention to paying attention, taking pauses, noticing when one does not pay attention, and re-orienting towards being present at the given moment without beating oneself up.”
It can be useful in the following situations:
With a newborn
The period immediately after giving birth is often fraught with potentially overwhelming situations. However well childbirth went, both mother and father will most likely be experiencing fatigue whilst trying to learn new skills, something most of us would find challenging at the best of times.
Implementing mindfulness techniques can be invaluable when faced with overwhelming situations such as how to feed a screaming hungry baby, collapse a new buggy or even cope with a busy hospital environment. Mindfulness gives us an opportunity to ground ourselves, so we can tackle new situations head on from a place of calm agility without reverting to old habits of the mind that can create undue stress and anxiety for us and our babies.
Dealing with toddler tantrums
A toddler creates a whole new set of problems for parents to deal with. Although you will be much more confident in understanding your child's needs, new behaviours such as tantrums can be hard to cope with as they are disruptive and to an adult, deeply irrational.
Using the STOP method “allows parents to take a broader perspective and helps them realise their child is using the tantrum to express frustration or some other unmet need,” says Maritz.
Dealing with life changes
Having a child will change your life in many ways, both practically and emotionally. There will be new priorities which may conflict with previous roles you once played and the life you used to live. Using mindfulness practice to help tackle each stage of your child's development, or other difficult scenarios and conflicts, can help maintain positive relationships with not only your immediate family but also friends and colleagues.
Mindfulness practice is all about our moment to moment experience and finding gratitude, happiness and self-compassion within it. Indeed, a 2am feed or a child on meltdown at soft play will definitely present its challenges, but there's nothing like 10 Mindful Breaths, Notice 5 Things or other Mindfulness exercises to help take the 'edge off'.
Becoming a parent is a major life transition that can leave you looking for the best anxiety therapist Wimbledon has to offer. Get in touch with the Mindful Therapist for individual or couples Mindfulness Training or to attend one of our Discover Mindfulness Workshops.