How to be a Conscious Parent

Parenting can be a struggle sometimes. When your young child is misbehaving, or your teenager’s behavior is out of control, you may naturally feel frustrated, concerned, and unsure of how to respond. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to parenting, there are ways to decrease stress (for parents and kids) and help your children grow. One option is conscious parenting.

Conscious parenting is a mindful, parent-focused approach to parenting. It essentially says that in order to help our children, we must first help ourselves. For example, when your children act up, conscious parenting encourages you to think about your response and your state of mind before you react. Are you going to act on impulse or respond from a place of calm? Are you going to yell at your children or speak to them firmly? Let’s learn more about how to be a conscious parent…

  • Be attuned to your child’s needs –
    Every child is different—they each have unique needs, personalities, behaviors, etc. It’s important to pay attention to your child and understand what he or she needs in the moment. Watch and listen to your son or daughter. During a moment of crisis, assess the situation and ask yourself, “Why is he/she upset?” Kids and teens misbehave for a reason, even if it’s a silly or irrational one. Every child has his or her own common triggers. After you determine why he or she is acting up, address the cause of behavior directly. For example, your son repeatedly yells at your daughter at the top of his lungs. Why? You observe that the two got into an argument because your daughter brought one of his favorite video games to a friend’s house without asking. Instead of yelling at them, firmly reinforce that they need to ask for permission before taking the other’s things. When you acknowledge your child, he or she will be less likely to act out because he or she feels understood.

  • Be a role model –
    Children tend to mirror their parents’ behavior; they see their parents as role models on how to behave and act in the world. Be mindful of your own behavior when discipling your children and when responding to daily challenges. Do you let your emotions get the best of you during stressful times? Perhaps that’s why your children do the same. Identify areas where you could improve. Maybe you tend to get too worked up when you see the stack of dirty dishes that nobody cleaned by the end of the week. Next time you feel yourself reaching that emotional threshold, take a step back. Does the situation warrant such an intense response? Or is there a more effective way to deal with the problem? It’s never too late to improve and be a more positive role model for your children.

  • Be consistent –
    Consistency is key for kids and teens alike. Children respond best to clear guidelines and consistent responses. As a parent, be consistent about your communication and about boundary setting. Remember that you have the right to set rules, and you also have the responsibility to follow through on what you say. Be aware of when you’re starting to become inconsistent and nudge yourself back on track. Even when the kids test your limits, respect yourself by standing your ground. When you reinforce guidelines and stick to limits, your child will grow accepting to them over time.

Being a conscious parent isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. When things get heated, remember to take a step back, or even step away temporarily. Recognize when you need to take a brief break in order to address the situation with a calm mind. The goal is to be more aware of yourself so that you can help your children deal with life’s challenges. With time, you will be able to improve family dynamics and you and your children will be better able to manage difficult situations together.