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I didn’t start as an intentional parent. In fact, even today, if you ask me, I’d say it takes me some amount of conscious effort to overcome my instincts to control, order and discipline and lead with kindness instead. That isn’t to say it’s impossible. It just means that mindful parenting is better in the long run, both for you and your kids.

Today, 12 and a half years after I became a parent (pretty much to the day), it comes to my mind that there are things I should have done differently.

As a mom under 30, I came into the whole parenting game a bit flustered, a bit anxious and a bit over-eager to get it all right from the beginning.

Net result? I was way too strict and a bit of a shrieking banshee. My child would then be terrified of my temper and it still gives me chills when I think of all the yelling I’ve subjected her to, at a much younger age.

When I stepped into the yell-free challenge and slowly overcame the tendency to shout at my child, something else shifted within me. I now knew that there was a way (more than one maybe) to ensure I stayed connected to my growing daughter.

Today, I will share 5 habits that have helped me, personally, as a mindful parent. Even trying one of these consistently will make a marked difference in your life as a parent.

Speak in a soft voice

I know. I am starting with the hardest one of all, but I guarantee this is one of the most effective habits of mindful parenting.

The days I speak softly, gently are the days I find that my daughter listens to what I say with rapt attention. The days when I tend to be snappy or irritable, she tunes out and retreats into a shell of defiance. (Hey, it’s the tween years. It happens).

Speaking softly also has other important benefits. It lets you calm your emotions before you speak out loud. It helps you think, not just about the moment at hand, but the larger atmosphere of peace that will prevail later in the day.


Listen with complete attention

Children are such incredibly vibrant creatures. For them, every little thing is something to be celebrated.

Whether that’s something silly that happened in school or a tiny win that resulted in a smile, it’s how they share it with you that brings boundless joy.

Most of us are hurried, flustered and juggling too many things at once. As a result, we half nod our heads in acknowledgement when they say something, while simultaneously ticking off a mental to-do list.

Did she finish her lunch?

Is there homework today?

What exam should she study for next?

This one takes effort too, but I urge you to slow down and keep that hour after the child returns from school for the important thing: listening to them completely and soulfully. Set that to-do list aside. It can wait. 🙂


Acknowledge their emotions

This one can be especially tricky, because children are still coming to grips with strong emotions and how to handle them.

What I have observed is kids, when they are very young, tend to express themselves instinctively. Whether that’s anger, frustration, joy or ecstasy, there is no filter. It all manifests automatically.

Over time, though, children learn to modulate their emotions based on how parents react to them.

If a parent yells every time a child has a meltdown, the result is that one of two things can happen: either the child yells louder the next time (since that’s a way to get the parent’s attention) or the child withdraws into a stunned silence (since the parent’s reaction terrifies them).

Instead, pause and observe the emotion. Most often, the only way you need to address the strong emotion is to be present with them, non-verbally and without judgment.


Respond; Don’t react to anger

When I stopped yelling and started speaking more softly, I also observed that I tend to take my time to respond to Gy’s emotional outbursts.

She’s navigating that sea of adolescence where emotions are strong, unusual and rather confusing. At this stage, what she needs is not discipline, but two things:

*Acknowledgement that she is struggling with an emotion

*Kindness and patience to help her through it

Most often, I wait for her to vent, slam the door or walk away . But, I do nothing. I sit and wait in my room while she processes the emotion.

A while later, she comes back, settles in for a hug and either talks about the emotion or has found a way to handle it herself.

What you need to do here is respond not with a lecture on controlling your emotions, but with compassion and an empathetic, ‘I know what that feels like. It’s okay to let it all out sometimes.’

*Honestly, I need to work better at this myself. But a daily reminder helps me stay mindful and in the moment.

Appreciate their presence in your life

Becoming a parent was something I never really prepared for, in the actual sense of the word. I didn’t even become pregnant easily. Between PCOS, stress and weight issues, I was all but resigned to the fact that I couldn’t bear children.

So when that pregnancy test turned positive one morning in later November, 2005, the feeling that spread through me was an incredible mixture of joy and gratitude.

After a chemical pregnancy in 2010, that feeling only multiplied. I was blessed. Incredibly, utterly, amazingly blessed to call myself a mother to the most wonderful child in the world.

A child, who by her mere presence, could improve my mood on a bad day. A child who, by her bear hugs and her eager request for bedtime stories (even today) warms my heart in so many different ways.

So I take every opportunity possible to express that gratitude for her existence and never take it for granted. To me, she is the sole reason my blog exists today.

If it weren’t for her, I would be doing something else entirely and I am not sure if I would be as happy as I am today.

Cherish your children. Take a moment every day to cup their face in your hands, breathe and utter the words, ‘Thank you for being in my life. Always’.


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Do you practise mindfulness as a parent? Mindful parenting is important if you want to build a strong and supportive environment of growth for your children. These intentional parenting ideas will help you connect with your child better. #Shailajav #PositiveParenting

*Featured image by Purino & Pinterest image by Fizkes via Shutterstock

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7 Comments

Shilpa Gupte · January 22, 2019 at 5:18 pm

Wow!( That’s how I usually react to your posts… your writing!)
Lovely post that is so needed for parents today with a hundred things demanding their attention and the children usually waiting in line for their turn.
Sharing this post with my SIL.
Thank you so much, Shy!
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Vinitha · January 22, 2019 at 11:19 pm

I used to be this mindful parent when Kanna was born. I never yelled at him; I always listened patiently and completely; I let him vent without reacting. I was there for him always. In short, I was the mom I wanted me to have. But after the second was born everything changed. I became an impatient, struggling, yelling, and restless mom. I’m working to get back to the person who I was and the realization has helped in not to resort to yelling and be present with the kids completely. Lowering my expectations about myself and the family also is helping, I believe.
I like this post, Shailaja. It’s a relief to know that every mom has their not so good moments and that with a little work the problems can be sorted.
Vinitha recently posted…International Blog Delurking Week 2019My Profile

Obsessivemom · January 23, 2019 at 10:20 am

Wonderful pointers Shailaja. I caught on rather late to the idea of being mindful but I see its benefits everyday. That first point you mentioned is something I need to work on. I don’t yell much but I do talk loudly. I don’t even know when or how that happened but my normal volume of talking, no matter who it is, has gone up since the children came along. Also that bit about acknowledging their emotions is hard sometimes. I know and I understand yet I get impatient of the constant counselling and consoling. That sounds terrible, doesn’t it? Sigh! The last two points, I’ve mastered. Not reacting to a tantrum is really a priceless bit of advice.
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Esha M Dutta · January 23, 2019 at 3:47 pm

Absolutely agree with all the points you mentioned, Shailaja. It took me countless rough rides, loads of heartbreaking moments and plenty of tearful episodes to realise how much I had to learn as a parent in all these 14+ years of parenting. This, in spite of the fact that I was, what everyone in the close family and closer circle of friends thought me to be—ideal mom material because I was always so patient and loving to the little one, in their eyes. But, I was fraught with the challenges that life was throwing at me every now and then and it was always getting in the way of my parenting. Mindful parenting is a great thing to follow and I think, it is only when we’ve been at our worst than we can really appreciate how beautiful and calming it can be for us and the kids in the long run.
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Rachna · January 24, 2019 at 8:29 am

Every word rings true, Shailaja. I’ve noticed that when I speak in a softer tone, the younger boy calms down immediately. He has even told me that. Mom, when you are kind to me, I can’t be nasty to you. He has his crazy moods too, but I have cut down on my yelling a lot.

With parenting there are many phases that are absolutely difficult and rough. Sometimes, the kids behave very irrationally but I am glad that they immediately realize and come and apologise. That is the best thing. Also their hugs and giggles. Now that Sid is almost in 12th, I am already thinking about how we all will manage once he flies the nest. So yes, hold them close and love them every single day because they are so precious!

Mansi · January 24, 2019 at 12:45 pm

Wow, it’s such a lovely and mindful post. After reading this I was just going through the guilt of screaming literally ,for the times I didn’t understood him well.

Shantala · January 31, 2019 at 7:56 am

Reading this post reaffirms that I am on the right track, and that I have come a long way from my control freak/screaming banshee days. Because I do ensure to do most of these things now.

That being said, I need to get better at the responding, not reacting. One day, one day..
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