The year 2014 might be remembered as the year of the “mindful parent.” In her book “Mindful Parenting: Simple and Powerful Solutions for Raising Creative, Engaged, Happy Kids in Today’s Hectic World” (St. Martin’s Griffin), Kristen Race, PhD, a psychologist, blogger and speaker, introduced the concept of mindful parenting and garnered headlines around the country.
In her book, Race wrote that she created the mindful life strategy based on cognitive science and positive psychology. Her philosophy aims to take parents and children from “Generation Stress” to happier, calmer, and less-stressed individuals by encouraging behaviors that reduce stress chemicals in the brain and nervous system.
Mindfulness itself is not exactly a new principle. The term is often used in yoga and meditation as a way to show that the practitioner is engaged with activity, whether it is deep breathing or stretching.
When it’s applied to parenting instead of yoga, however, mindfulness means being centered in the parenting moment and actively reducing stress. According to Race, many children and parents are overscheduled, bouncing from school to sports practices to music and dance lessons, then fitting in a meal in the car before collapsing into bed. The result is a constantly stimulated brain and central nervous system as the body’s natural fight-or-flight instinct is permanently engaged, flooding the body with stress chemicals. This can lead to:
- Attention difficulties
- Impulse control problems
- Social struggles
Instead of living in a constant state of agitation, Race writes that parents should look for ways to reduce stress and the sense of racing from event to event. Instead, she counsels parents to live in the moment. The result, she says, will be:
- Increased focus
- Conflict resolution skills
- Improved response to difficult situations
- Increased empathy
Race’s mindfulness solutions include “Brain Coolers,” where parents and families engage in activities to be more peaceful, such as hiking or looking at the stars.
Living mindfully is a great shift from what most families are used to. It is common to feel discouraged at first, but if you keep at it, you will find that everyday life is more manageable and less hectic.
- Mindful parenting is a practice that involves living in the present, not focusing excessively on the future.
- Dr. Kristen Race, a psychologist and author of Mindful Parenting, calls today’s kids “Generation Stress.”
- Through mindfulness, Dr. Race believes parents and kids can live with less anxiety and better coping mechanisms.
- Critics believe mindful parenting doesn’t help parents meet their children’s goals.
I agree with the principals outline in this book. In my practice I see too many families are “hyper-scheduled”. They rush from one activity to the next, eat dinner on the run and struggle to even keep up with themselves. Having 3 very active boys I have found myself in the same predicament at times. It is challenging to keep balance and stay relaxed. It can happen to the best of us when we least expect it. It is important when we feel the pressures and tension getting the best of us to take a step back and reflect on what we possibly cut back on to maintain a reasonable schedule that won’t over tax all those involved. What I have taken to doing is having a “family calendar” so I can keep track of everyone’s activities in one place, because most of the time we are all in the car going to and fro from all the activities together.
That’s a great tip. I really need to get my husband to share a calendar with me!
This book sounds great! As a teacher, I have seen so many of my students stress over the amount of after school activities they have during the week. They struggle to balance their activities with their school work. So much is expected of them at such a young age. The idea of “Brain Coolers” seems like a great idea! I do think it’s important for kids to have time to do sports or activities that they enjoy, but not to the point where they become overwhelmed or stressed.
This makes sense to me, although it’s probably something you have to constantly remind yourself to do. It’s easy to get wrapped up in life’s everyday challenges!
Beyond parenting, it’s a good philosophy for life! Especially with so much technology available to keep you constantly engaged. It’s a good reminder to slow down and live in the now.
I will have to check this book out – I try to live by these principles so it is nice to see someone has spent some time thinking these ideas out that I can learn from! I’m not sure how a book that tells us as parents to take it easy, stop overscheduling, and live in the moment can draw criticism but there are always opposing viewpoints, right?