Mindfulness means being aware of the present moment, focusing on what’s happening now, and experiencing it in a non-critical, non-judgmental way. That can be difficult for a parent to do when you’re feeling stressed or tired and your child does something you don’t like or is being difficult. That’s when you need to take a minute and stay calm before reacting in frustration or anger.
Mindfulness is increasingly recognized as an important component of well-being and success. That’s why Apple Montessori Schools incorporates mindfulness practices into our daily routine. The Montessori method involves a variety of practices that involve mindfulness, including deep concentration, practical activities, and attention to sensory experiences to spark your child’s curiosity and love for learning.
Applying mindfulness at home
Mindfulness can also be applied to parenting. According to psychologist Ryan Niemiec, author of Mindfulness and Character Strengths, we can “positively reframe” a situation by focusing on both our own and our child’s character strengths and reacting to situations in a more constructive manner. Mr. Niemiec believes it is possible to control negative thoughts and feelings to “reframe” the situation in a more positive way for better outcomes. It’s mindful parenting using a strength-based approach.
So how do we practice mindful strengths parenting?
As we become more conscientious about being mindful and focusing on what’s happening now in a positive way, you can explore ways for positive reframing using your own strengths to bring out the best in your children. Here are some examples:
Winning over a whiner
My friend’s five-year-old daughter likes to get attention by whining for what she wants. Rather than get annoyed, my friend calmly says, “Lauren, you know Mommy doesn’t like to hear you whine. When you whine, I stop listening to you, so just ask me nicely and politely for what you want.” My friend uses her love and honesty to defuse the situation and constructively explain how to properly ask for things.
Persuading a picky eater
My younger brother was a very picky eater. He avoided eating dinner by creatively putting the food in his pockets and the cuffs of his pants. Our parents caught on quickly. Instead of scolding him, they used it as an opportunity to extend dinner time, so we could all have more time together. “We’ll just sit and talk until Steve is finished with his dinner,” my father said. It wasn’t long before my brother made up his own mind to start eating his dinner in a timely manner, so we could watch TV or play outside after dinner. My father acted in a patient, fair and straight-forward manner without any drama.
Focusing a foot-dragger
When it comes to doing chores or getting ready for school, some children can drag their feet, getting distracted and not completing the tasks at hand. Being mindful of this, you can teach your child to take pride in being responsible for themselves. Whether it’s picking up toys or getting ready to go to bed, you can tenderly let them know that they are a part of a team and that everyone in the family has roles and responsibilities to keep the home running in a calm, orderly and respectful manner so everyone is happy.
Similarly, that’s the way an Apple Montessori classroom operates. Children learn at an early age how to be responsible for selecting and putting away their activities, helping to wash dishes and water plants, while being respectful of their teachers and classmates. The Montessori philosophy of child education and development supports a mindful, positive approach with activities and curriculum that complement a child’s innate desire for learning, independence, and achieving a sense of accomplishment by doing for themselves.