Raising Children with Mindfulness Parenting

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 No comments

Today, I'm welcoming a writer from Open Mind Body Soul to the blog. Open Mind Body Soul would welcome writings related to mindful parenting and other subjects. Contact them here.

Visit Open Mind Body Soul for more mindfulness tips.



The act of mindfulness, when applied to our lives, is about focusing our awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting our feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. In being mindful, we can live happier and more fulfilling lives and can minimize stress and anxiety.
This concept of practicing mindfulness can also be applied to the art of parenting, as a positive parenting style, where we are not only are mindful of our own thoughts and feelings in each moment, but where we extend that to understanding how they might affect our children and their way of being in this world.

The famous Buddhist scholar Thich Nhat Hanh, said 'If you love someone, the greatest gift you can give them is your presence'. By practicing mindful parenting you are gifting your child your presence and self-awareness, which can reap deep and meaningful benefits for your kids as well as for yourself.

Parenting with presence

It could be said that being there for your child and parenting them as a fully present person by putting aside distractions, would be to parent in a mindful way. It also means not allowing the many pressures of time, work and busy lifestyles to become an obstacle to the way you communicate with your child. The idea should always be in responding to stressful moments and reacting to your child’s behaviour in a positive way that takes into account how they are reacting to the environment around them.

Often, our own emotions can get in the way of us responding in a way that is most helpful to ourselves and our children. When we react negatively rather than mindfully, it can compound the situation affecting us and our children, whereas when we are being mindful, we are able to remain connected to what our children’s needs in that moment are, and can more effectively respond to them.

Our behaviour and communication with our children has a major, if not the most important part, to play in shaping their subconscious minds which is believed to be formed primarily in the golden early years of childhood. Parenting with mindfulness at this ripe stage will help in forming a positive and strong base for their emotional, cognitive and habitual development.

Parenting with respect

However, there is more to mindful parenting than just engaging with your child fully. Mindful parenting means you also respect your child as a unique individual. It can help you to maintain a healthy parent and child relationship by helping you strike a balance between what your children actually need, which can many times be at odds with what you think they need. By practicing mindful awareness as a parent, you can learn to acknowledge and address all your child’s needs in each moment with more skill, understanding and grace.

In order to reach a state of mindful awareness and being able to apply that to all situations you might find yourself trying to manage as a parent each day, you need to first go deep within yourself, and cultivate the presence that allows you to experience more kindness, compassion and self-acceptance. As a result of tapping into this mindset, it will also begin to naturally flow to your children.

Not only does this help your child to feel loved, but it also helps them to learn core values for living their own lives. As parents we are our children’s best teachers, and we do that by showing them how we live and how we then expect them to live too.

How to practice mindful parenting?

Every day we are faced with situations that can test our patience and push the boundaries of the love we have for our kids. Implementing mindful parenting can help prevent negative situations from becoming worse. Next time you find yourself in a moment where you could feel yourself shouting at your child or talking to them in a negative way, practice mindful parenting.

To do this, take the time to pause, clear your mind of all thoughts and ask yourself these questions:

What is happening with my child in this moment?

What does my child feel?

What does my child need?

What am I feeling?

What do I need?

This moment of pause gives you a chance to collect your thoughts, evaluate your own feelings and then also assess show your child is also feeling in that given moment. It provides opportunity to more clearly recognise what your child might need from you then and there. This simple act of mindful parenting allows you to react in a place and time that connects you to your children in small and powerful ways rather than reactive and negative ones.

In an atmosphere of acceptance such as this, children can grow, develop, create and learn. In turn, you will become less critical of yourself and how you parent, and will learn how to step back in stressful situations without reacting immediately and in a way that can be more detrimental than good. This in turn creates a stronger relationship between you and your child.

Reap the parenting rewards

To be the parent you want to be for your children takes courage, persistence and a willingness to be reflective about yourself and your children. Mindful approaches to parenting assist you to be more self-aware and attuned to the needs of your child, allowing you to take a step back and to consider what is going on for both yourself and your kids. 

Using mindful approaches in your parenting takes practice. Allow yourself and your childï to make mistakes. You are both doing the best you can do. Remember that changing behaviours, habits and ways of thinking takes time and repetition. And with that work, you will be rewarded with a closer connection between you and your children and a calmer, more peaceful family life will result.

If you are interested in Mindfulness and Mindfulness Mediation, check out our article about

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Embrace the Seasons of Parenthood

Sunday, June 26, 2016 No comments

The following post is a chapter from my bestselling book, The Newbie's Guide to Positive Parenting.


Parenthood has many seasons. As is often our nature, we are regularly looking toward the next season rather than fully embracing and enjoying the one we're in. It's currently winter here – my least favorite season. I'm longing for the sunshine and warmth of spring. Of course, on those blistering hot summer days, I was longing for the chill of winter air. Winter always gives way to spring. Babyhood gives way to toddlerhood. Things are constantly changing, and one of the great keys to joy in life and in parenthood is learning to embrace the season that you're currently in instead of looking to the one ahead.

I remember the exhausting days when I had a two year old and a newborn. My two year old still wasn't sleeping through the night, and my newborn only slept for a couple of hours at a time. I had a toddler in my bed and a newborn in a bedside crib, and some nights I wasn't sure if I had even found sleep. I found myself doing a lot of wishing....

I wish they'd sleep through the night. I wish they'd sleep in their own room. I wish I didn't have to lie with them while they fall asleep. I wish I'd never started co-sleeping. I wish they were out of diapers. I wish I had some time for myself.

Now, my babies are big boys. They are out of my bed, out of my room, and long out of diapers. They almost never wake me at night. They sleep in their own room. They don't need me to lie down with them anymore. I give them a kiss and walk out the door – and I have lots of time for me now.
Some nights, I walk out of their room, go curl up in my bed in front of the fire with a good book and think, “Ah. This is nice.”

But then there are the other nights when I lie there and listen to them talking with each other (their room is adjacent to mine). I listen as they tell funny stories and belly laugh at each other, and their laughter makes me smile through my tears. Silent tears are falling on my pillow as I stare at my ceiling, remembering the days when they used to need me. They need me less now. And as much I used to wish for “me time” back then is as much as I'm wishing now for “baby time.” Once more, I find myself doing a lot of wishing...I wish they still needed me to lie down with them. I wish I could hold them all night like I used to. I wish we were still co-sleeping. I wish they were back in diapers. I wish I could still rock them. I wish I could go back and do it all again, and savor every moment, committing it all to memory, rather than wishing it away.

Time teaches us many lessons. Another valuable lesson time has taught me is to not sweat the small things. Children are unique individuals, yet we try to put them all on the same time line. We expect them to be crawling, walking, talking, potty trained, and reading by a certain age, and we can get our stomach in knots worrying if and why they're missing the mark.

My firstborn was potty trained by age two and a half. It took literally one day. He never looked back. He stayed dry through the night immediately. It was extremely easy. I thought I was a pro.
Son number two set me straight on the whole “pro” idea. He was well into age 4 before he decided to use the potty, and for many, many months after that, he had frequent accidents. I thought he'd go to college in diapers.

Then one day I realized I couldn't remember the last time he had an accident in his undies. Just like that, it ended. I don't know when it happened. All of that worrying was for nothing. That's how these things often go – you think the stage or season will never end, and then suddenly you realize that it has. So, when I begin to worry that my son isn't reading as well at this age as many of his peers, I stop my worrying thoughts and remind myself that he'll get it in his own time.

Childhood is not a race. Neither is parenthood. Let's stop rushing through, looking only for the next season to come, and take time to savor the one we are in. The sand is slipping through the hourglass, and there is no slowing it down. Just a blink, and suddenly there is a bit less in the top of the glass than there was before.

Time is slipping away.

Although time cannot be slowed, it can be embraced. There is delight to be found in our ordinary days. Lifelong relationships are being built in these ordinary days. Your legacy is forged in these ordinary days. While they may pass by seemingly uneventful and unimportant, there is no such thing as an unimportant day when you are shaping a child's life. Something was written on their hearts today – something important. Be intentional about what it is you are writing.

Embrace the time you have. Enjoy the season you are in.

Each season is sweet in its own way, and each one will be missed when it is gone. Don't miss the beauty of the bud while you're waiting for the blossom. Each stage of a child's life offers us a chance to know him a little better and to grow a little closer. Each stage also gives us a chance to grow into a better parent as we learn the lessons they teach us about loving unconditionally, living wholeheartedly, and giving and receiving grace.

                                                  Photo credit: Gentle Parenting Memes

If you enjoyed this post, check out Rebecca's new book, Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide.

Positive Parenting is more than a parenting book. It's a guide to human connection. Rebecca provides a roadmap for creating happy, deeply connected families where children and parents alike are able to rise to their fullest potential.”  --Amy McCready, author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic

To order in the USA: http://bit.ly/22ezDFN...
To order in Canada: http://amzn.to/1WBtjrF
To order in the UK: http://bit.ly/positiveparentinguk
To order from any other country: http://bit.ly/positiveparentingf

When Positive Parenting Doesn't Work

Monday, June 20, 2016 No comments

Photo credit: Creative Child Magazine

Rarely do I hear from parents who have tried the positive parenting approach and felt it wasn’t working. Most often, moms and dads tell me that it transformed their relationships and that their children behave better. Occasionally, though, I’ve heard “I’m doing it, but it’s not working!” It’s impossible to tell what is causing the problem because every child, parent, and household is so unique. However, there are six common circumstances that might cause positive parenting attempts to feel like a failure.

You’re being permissive.
Connected relationships are the foundation of positive parenting. When a child has a secure attachment with his caregiver, he is more cooperative. As parents, we have the most influence on children when we have their hearts. This doesn’t mean, however, that we tiptoe around our kids, afraid to set any limit that would cause them to be upset with us for fear of damaging the relationship.

Positive parents are still very much in the leadership role and we must set limits and maintain boundaries.

So, if you’re finding that you’re letting your child overstep boundaries just to avoid conflict or confrontation, it’s likely that you’re being too permissive. Work on being firm and kind at the same time. Envision yourself as a calm and capable pilot. A little turbulence doesn’t fluster you. If you’re unsure what to do when your kids overstep their boundaries, try these positive parenting alternatives to time-out that work.

You’re not living the messages you’re preaching.
Who we are to our kids matters more than what we say. Children watch us – how we handle ourselves, how we react, how we behave – and they imitate what they see. The old “do as I say, not as I do” adage doesn’t work in positive parenting because it requires escalating punishments to make kids comply when their natural inclination is to do what their parents do. To have the greatest positive impact, make sure your own behavior is in line with the messages and values you want your kids to live by.

You and your partner are sending conflicting messages.
It’s confusing for kids when one parent is trying to be positive while the other is punitive. For positive parenting to work best, both parents need to come to an agreement that this is best for their family and commit to practicing it wholeheartedly. My new book, Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, will help you and your partner work through your differences and get on the same page.

There’s a strong negative influence in the child’s life.
It could be a friend to whom your child has an attachment, something from the Internet, or even a TV show. I once had to cut out a certain cartoon until my children were older because they mimicked things the cartoon characters said that sounded rude.

Children are great imitators.

If they see and hear their friends exhibiting a certain behavior, they may try it out, too. Be aware of who and what is influencing your child, set clear limits, and maintain your boundaries. In my opinion, losing television privileges isn’t an arbitrary punishment if the television is what’s causing the problem. It’s a logical solution to the problem.

Your expectations are too high.
If you’ve recently transitioned to positive parenting, it will likely take some time for everyone to adjust to the changes. Don’t give up too soon. You also have to ask yourself if your expectations are reasonable for your child’s age and circumstances. Is it possible that you’re comparing yourself or your children to others or setting a standard of perfection that isn’t attainable?

The relationship needs work.
There may be a disconnect present in your relationship. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you’ve done something terribly wrong. If your child seems defiant or frequently breaks rules or doesn’t listen, that’s a cue that you should spend more time connecting with her. Here are 10 ways to connect with your child.

We all hit roadblocks in this parenting journey. If it seems like positive parenting isn’t working for you right now, don’t give up. Being receptive and open to the possibilities of improvement is half the work!

**This post was originally published at Creative Child Magazine.

Find more of my Creative Child articles here.

Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide

Positive Parenting is more than a parenting book. It's a guide to human connection. Rebecca provides a roadmap for creating happy, deeply connected families where children and parents alike are able to rise to their fullest potential.”  --Amy McCready, author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic

To order in the USA: http://bit.ly/22ezDFN...
To order in Canada: http://amzn.to/1WBtjrF
To order in the UK: http://bit.ly/positiveparentinguk
To order from any other country: http://bit.ly/positiveparentingf

9 Things Every Parent with an Anxious Child Should Try

Friday, June 17, 2016 2 comments
9 Things Every Parent with an Anxious Child Should Try
By Renee Jain, Chief Storyteller at GoZen.com

As all the kids line up to go to school, your son, Timmy, turns to you and says, "I don't want to take the bus. My stomach hurts. Please don't make me go." You cringe and think, Here we go again. What should be a simple morning routine explodes into a daunting challenge.

You look at Timmy and see genuine terror. You want to comfort him. You want to ease the excessive worry that's become part and parcel of his everyday life. First, you try logic. "Timmy, we walk an extra four blocks to catch this bus because this driver has an accident-free driving record!" He doesn't budge.

You provide reassurance. "I promise you'll be OK. Timmy, look at me... you trust me, right?" Timmy nods. A few seconds later he whispers, "Please don't make me go."

You resort to anger: "Timothy Christopher, you will get on this bus RIGHT NOW, or there will be serious consequences. No iPad for one week!" He looks at you as if you're making him walk the plank. He climbs onto the bus, defeated. You feel terrible.

If any of this sounds familiar, know you are not alone. Most parents would move mountains to ease their child's pain. Parents of kids with anxiety would move planets and stars as well. It hurts to watch your child worry over situations that, frankly, don't seem that scary. Here's the thing: To your child's mind, these situations are genuinely threatening. And even perceived threats can create a real nervous system response. We call this response anxiety and I know it well.

I'd spent the better part of my childhood covering up a persistent, overwhelming feeling of worry until, finally, in my early twenties, I decided to seek out a solution. What I've learned over the last two decades is that many people suffer from debilitating worry. In fact, 40 million American adults, as well as 1 in 8 children, suffer from anxiety. Many kids miss school, social activities and a good night's rest just from the worried thoughts in their head. Many parents suffer from frustration and a feeling of helplessness when they witness their child in this state day in, day out.

What I also learned is that while there is no one-size-fits-all solution for anxiety, there are a plethora of great research-based techniques that can help manage it -- many of which are simple to learn. WAIT! Why didn't my parents know about this? Why didn't I know about it? Why don't they teach these skills in school?

I wish I could go back in time and teach the younger version of myself how to cope, but of course, that's not possible. What is possible is to try to reach as many kids and parents as possible with these coping skills. What is possible is to teach kids how to go beyond just surviving to really finding meaning, purpose and happiness in their lives. To this end, I created an anxiety relief program for kids called GoZen! Here are 9 ideas straight from that program that parents of anxious children can try right away:

1. Stop Reassuring Your Child
Your child worries. You know there is nothing to worry about, so you say, "Trust me. There's nothing to worry about." Done and done, right? We all wish it were that simple. Why does your reassurance fall on deaf ears? It's actually not the ears causing the issue. Your anxious child desperately wants to listen to you, but the brain won't let it happen. During periods of anxiety, there is a rapid dump of chemicals and mental transitions executed in your body for survival. One by-product is that the prefrontal cortex -- or more logical part of the brain -- gets put on hold while the more automated emotional brain takes over. In other words, it is really hard for your child to think clearly, use logic or even remember how to complete basic tasks. What should you do instead of trying to rationalize the worry away? Try something I call the FEEL method:

 Freeze -- pause and take some deep breaths with your child. Deep breathing can help reverse the nervous system response.
 Empathize -- anxiety is scary. Your child wants to know that you get it.
 Evaluate -- once your child is calm, it's time to figure out possible solutions.
 Let Go - Let go of your guilt; you are an amazing parent giving your child the tools to manage their worry.

2. Highlight Why Worrying is Good
Remember, anxiety is tough enough without a child believing that Something is wrong with me. Many kids even develop anxiety about having anxiety. Teach your kids that worrying does, in fact, have a purpose.

When our ancestors were hunting and gathering food there was danger in the environment, and being worried helped them avoid attacks from the saber-toothed cat lurking in the bush. In modern times, we don't have a need to run from predators, but we are left with an evolutionary imprint that protects us: worry.

Worry is a protection mechanism. Worry rings an alarm in our system and helps us survive danger. Teach your kids that worry is perfectly normal, it can help protect us, and everyone experiences it from time to time. Sometimes our system sets off false alarms, but this type of worry (anxiety) can be put in check with some simple techniques.

3. Bring Your Child's Worry to Life
As you probably know, ignoring anxiety doesn't help. But bringing worry to life and talking about it like a real person can. Create a worry character for your child. In
GoZen!, we created Widdle the Worrier. Widdle personifies anxiety. Widdle lives in the old brain that is responsible for protecting us when we're in danger. Of course, sometimes Widdle gets a little out of control and when that happens, we have to talk some sense into Widdle. You can use this same idea with a stuffed animal or even role-playing at home.

Personifying worry or creating a character has multiple benefits. It can help demystify this scary physical response children experience when they worry. It can reactivate the logical brain, and it's a tool your children can use on their own at any time.

Have an anxious child? Join us for a LIVE, FREE masterclass: 9 Things Every Parent with an Anxious Child Should Try, Thursday, June 23rd @ 4pm EDT - Grab your spot now!

4. Teach Your Child to Be a Thought Detective
Remember, worry is the brain's way of protecting us from danger. To make sure we're really paying attention, the mind often exaggerates the object of the worry (e.g., mistaking a stick for a snake). You may have heard that teaching your children to think more positively could calm their worries. But the best remedy for distorted thinking is not positive thinking; it's accurate thinking. Try a method we call the 3Cs:

 Catch your thoughts: Imagine every thought you have floats above your head in a bubble (like what you see in comic strips). Now, catch one of the worried thoughts like "No one at school likes me."

 Collect evidence: Next, collect evidence to support or negate this thought. Teach your child not to make judgments about what to worry about based only on feelings. Feelings are not facts. (Supporting evidence: "I had a hard time finding someone to sit with at lunch yesterday." Negating evidence: "Sherry and I do homework together--she's a friend of mine.")

 Challenge your thoughts: The best (and most entertaining) way to do this is to teach your children to have a debate within themselves.

5. Allow Them to Worry
As you know, telling your children not to worry won't prevent them from doing so. If your children could simply shove their feelings away, they would. But allowing your children to worry openly, in limited doses, can be helpful. Create a daily ritual called "Worry Time" that lasts 10 to 15 minutes. During this ritual encourage your children to release all their worries in writing. You can make the activity fun by decorating a worry box. During worry time there are no rules on what constitutes a valid worry -- anything goes. When the time is up, close the box and say good-bye to the worries for the day.

6. Help Them Go from What If to What Is
You may not know this, but humans are capable of time travel. In fact, mentally we spend a lot of time in the future. For someone experiencing anxiety, this type of mental time travel can exacerbate the worry. A typical time traveler asks what-if questions: "What if I can't open my locker and I miss class?" "What if Suzy doesn't talk to me today?"
Research shows that coming back to the present can help alleviate this tendency. One effective method of doing this is to practice mindfulness exercises. Mindfulness brings a child from what if to what is. To do this, help your child simply focus on their breath for a few minutes.

Have an anxious child? Join us for a LIVE, FREE masterclass: 9 Things Every Parent with an Anxious Child Should Try, Thursday, June 23rd @ 4pm EDT - Grab your spot now!

7. Avoid Avoiding Everything that Causes Anxiety
Do your children want to avoid social events, dogs, school, planes or basically any situation that causes anxiety? As a parent, do you help them do so? Of course! This is natural. The flight part of the flight-fight-freeze response urges your children to escape the threatening situation. Unfortunately, in the long run, avoidance makes anxiety worse.

So what's the alternative? Try a method we call laddering. Kids who are able to manage their worry break it down into manageable chunks. Laddering uses this chunking concept and gradual exposure to reach a goal.

Let's say your child is afraid of sitting on the swings in the park. Instead of avoiding this activity, create mini-goals to get closer to the bigger goal (e.g., go to the edge of the park, then walk into the park, go to the swings, and, finally, get on a swing). You can use each step until the exposure becomes too easy; that's when you know it's time to move to the next rung on the ladder.

8. Help Them Work Through a Checklist
What do trained pilots do when they face an emergency? They don't wing it (no pun intended!); they refer to their emergency checklists. Even with years of training, every pilot works through a checklist because, when in danger, sometimes it's hard to think clearly.
When kids face anxiety they feel the same way. Why not create a checklist so they have a step-by-step method to calm down? What do you want them to do when they first feel anxiety coming on? If breathing helps them, then the first step is to pause and breathe. Next, they can evaluate the situation. In the end, you can create a hard copy checklist for your child to refer to when they feel anxious.

9. Practice Self-Compassion
Watching your child suffer from anxiety can be painful, frustrating, and confusing. There is not one parent that hasn't wondered at one time or another if they are the cause of their child's anxiety. Here's the thing, research shows that anxiety is often the result of multiple factors (i.e., genes, brain physiology, temperament, environmental factors, past traumatic events, etc.). Please keep in mind, you did not cause your child's anxiety, but you can help them overcome it.

Toward the goal of a healthier life for the whole family, practice self-compassion. Remember, you're not alone, and you're not to blame. It's time to let go of debilitating self-criticism and forgive yourself. Love yourself. You are your child's champion.

Have an anxious child? Take your learning much deeper and join us for a LIVE, FREE masterclass: 9 Things Every Parent with an Anxious Child Should Try,  Thursday, June 23rd @ 4pm EDT - Grab your spot now!


Renee Jain is an award-winning tech entrepreneur turned speaker and certified life coach. She holds a masters in applied positive psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. Renee’s passion is taking research-based concepts and transforming them into fun and digestible learning modules. Renee teaches anxious children how to manage stress and worry through her innovative GoZen! Anxiety Relief Programs for Kids.