By Emma Burns, Mindfulness and Yoga Teacher and Founder of Me Love Yoga – www.meloveyoga.com.
As a parent I believe the best way to teach our children to be mindful is to live mindfully ourselves, modelling the behaviour we want our children to emulate. It takes practice but when you feel negative emotions, perhaps annoyance, irritation, upset or anger at your child’s behaviour remember to S.T.O.P:
S is for STOP
Simply pause. This can be the hardest step as you have to remember to do it and catch yourself before emotions take over. You have spent years creating thought and behavioural habits, so if this short exercise doesn’t work at first don’t be hard on yourself. It will take patience and practice.
Or however many breaths you need to bring yourself to a calmer state. As you focus on your breath you could count to ten. Count one as you inhale, two as you exhale… continuing to ten (either out loud or in your head) and repeat as necessary.
Become aware of how you feel, of your thoughts and your surroundings. Is your child purposefully misbehaving or could they be experiencing a negative emotion like frustration, annoyance or sadness but don’t yet know how to convey it?
P is for Proceed
Decide the best way to proceed so that you can respond rather than react to the situation. You may still discipline your child but do it from a place of understanding and educating them, instead of from a place of annoyance, upset or anger.
The above can often be done in a matter of seconds; the time it takes to take one breath. However, if your child is behaving dangerously and you need to act swiftly then do whatever you need to, to make your child and others safe.