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When you use mindful focusing in parenting you can shift your child out of stuck obstructive situations and increase his or her capacity for joyful connecting and learning. With three simple phrases you can rapidly get into your center so that you can guide your child from NO to YES and from OFF to ON.
These key phrases move you and your child from an impasse in learning or interacting to a sense of being turned ON to the experience and thread of life.These phrases are easy to incorporate into your daily routine, and they focus thinking and actions to be heart based, so that you will automatically respons with mindfulness to any situation you face.
1. Stop, look, and listen. This is the phrase used to focus your children to oncoming traffic when crossing the street. It is the perfect mantra to create the neutral, present moment, open-minded perspective required for parenting through conflicts or roadblocks. Stop arguing, yelling, pushing through, or dragging along; look at your child’s face, and actions, to discern what may be underneath resistance or a negative attitude; listen to your and your child’s tone, non-verbal language to hear an underlying covert message she is trying to communicate. Even children with excellent language skills tend to use actions and behavior to communicate. Use your observation skills to discern what may be interfering with her success, compliance, or participation.
2. The attitude of gratitude. Point out everything done well so that when you need to guide or redirect your child she doesn’t experience criticism but rather redirection. Historically parents have a tendency to remain silent when their children are acting appropriately, taking the position that children only need parents to jump in when they are on the wrong track. This actually leads to poor self-esteem. It works best to provide useful feedback when your child is on-track then, when she gets off-track she can interpret the redirection from you in a more harmonizing way.
This particular phrase can also be applied to focusing on strengths both in yourself and your child and not focusing on weaknesses and limitations. It is additionally useful in centering problems in their proper place. When you are working to correct a specific problem you may be over-focusing on it – by returning to the attitude of gratitude you can speak about the problem with a more balanced focus. The attitude of gratitude creates an inner structure of resilient positive self-esteem rooted in a solid foundation.
3. Focus on what you want rather than what you fear. This mindful mantra directs your attention to precisely where you have power. Things feared tend to be things unknown that are out of your control. Creating a style of relating or reacting to your child from that space doesn’t assist your child in creating an internalized structure of empowerment. An inner locus of control puts the resilience, power to create, and basic capacity to respond to whatever comes your way into your own hands, so that you believe, have faith and have evidence that you can create what you want. Teaching this, and modeling this for your child, results in critical thinking skills, resilience, self-confidence and response-ability. This builds the inner structure for your child to develop into his best self.
From my long experience as a psychotherapist and life coach what I have learned is that our way of being in the world is some combination of our temperament and the cultural expectations of our small family groups. We say what we heard in childhood and we do what we saw. Be congruent and mindful in what you say and do and you will pass that congruence in living on to your child.
This focus assists you in all stages of development, children to adolescents. Trust the process, be consistent and watch your children bloom into the unique embodiment of their personal selves.
Create space to take care of yourself, so that you will have the energy to assist your child. This need increases when you are under stress, yet it is the time most parents cut-out when stress mounts. Stress creates problems for parents and children to communicate well and efficiently. This simple action defines whether you will have sufficient energy to hold the spiritual, emotional, and physical container for your children.
These simple phrases assist you to be mindful of yourself and to build in time to connect with your psycho-emotional, spiritual and physical needs. A daily Yoga practice allows for spirit, mind, and body to be strengthened and restored so that you can face your child’s needs with a neutral, compassionate, and renewed mindful attitude.
Allowing your heart to lead your mind through mindfulness you will turn NO to ON for yourself, your children and those you love. Success and joy are the beloved side-effects.
Turning NO to ON: The Art of Parenting with Mindfulness (Gineris, 2012)