Mindful Parenting: Identifying Kids’ Needs

Hello! In my last few posts, I have been talking about mindfulness and the circumstances leading me to feel inclined towards it. One of the areas of my life where mindfulness has proved most helpful is parenting.

According to my understanding and experience, mindful parenting, like mindful living, centres on being present in the present moment. When I started out as a parent, I used my parents as the frame of reference for developing my parenting style. I thought of my childhood and of my needs as a child to decide how I should parent my kids. I tried to copy things that my parents did ”right” according to me, and I tried to steer clear of the ”mistakes” they made.

For instance, when I was little, and my parents wanted me to do something or behave a certain way, they would say, ”Look, that kid is listening to his parents” or ”Everyone is going to laugh at you if you behave this way.” Usually, these “threats” served their purpose and I behaved well when people were watching so that they did not make fun of me. So, naturally, when I became a parent, I started to use the same strategy to encourage my kids to modify their behaviour.

One morning, while dropping my son off at school, I used a stroller, as the walkway was too icy for him to walk. On our way, a few strangers commented on why a big kid like him, was on the stroller. That made me feel conscious and awakened the kid in me, who was always worried about being made fun of, by strangers. As we reached school, I asked my son to get off the stroller and start walking, so that none of the other parents or staff members could see that we used a stroller. When he didn’t get off, I used my parents’ line on him and told him that his classmates would make fun of him and laugh at him if he didn’t get off. This made him so embarrassed that he had a gigantic meltdown right outside the school and he refused to go inside.

I instantly regretted my decision to follow my parents despite knowing how sensitive my kid is. Now that I try to practise mindfulness, I realize that assessing my kids’ needs as children, and my own needs as a parent, at any given time, is much more fruitful than copy-pasting my parents’ approach. At times, it is hard to remind ourselves that we are not kids anymore – that our needs or experiences as kids cannot define our parenting styles. Instead, we need to focus on what our kids need from us as parents, and what we need from ourselves, in order to be efficient. Once we have done that, we need to be flexible and adjust our behaviours, our strategies, our words, according to those needs.

Have you ever consciously practised mindful parenting? What has your experience been? Let me know through the comments section.

Have a mindful Tuesday, everyone.

©️ Pebble in the Ocean 2022

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