Updated: May 11, 2022
1. Allow your child to complete their own task
Give your child time to complete tasks on their own if they are physically capable and willing to. Time to think, process, and engage their brain in the task at hand. Time to grow in confidence, awareness, and problem-solving. Time to feel the completion of a job well done.
Don’t rush them. Don’t take over for them. Don’t correct them or show them how to do it after they have already started on their own.
You might have taken over because it would have been faster or you were worried they wouldn’t get it right — but you will be robbing your child of valuable opportunities to learn skills that are important for future independence and accomplishment in life.
2. Spend time in nature
I personally find it is easier to be mindful and present when I am in nature. The sounds, smells, and sights of nature, whether they are loud or subtle, all seem to help my mind be more alert and aware. Taking a walk in the woods can help
you see that everything is constantly changing. A young sapling grows into a large tree over many years, yet you never notice the growth because it happens so slowly, day by day. That sense of impermanence can be comforting for your kids to experience and understand. If you are not used to being in nature as a family, there might be some things that will feel uncomfortable at first. Your kids might be bored for long stretches of time or may need constant distractions from their electronics or toys.
Being bored forces them (and you) to learn how to handle discomfort and silence which can lead everyone to feel refreshed and inspired afterward while spending quality time together without any screens
3. Provide space for open-ended play
Although it may seem a bit backward, letting your children experience boredom is one of the absolute best ways to foster creativity and curiosity. Open-ended playtime allows them to use their own problem-solving skills to discover new ways to entertain themselves—from throwing a blanket over the couch and pretending to drive an "airplane" around the room, or suggesting that everyone get into costume and put on a play. In these moments, they learn how to communicate with each other, share ideas and collaborate on projects. You'll be amazed at how quickly your child will transform from being stuck in front of a screen into something of a budding theater director once given the opportunity.
This kind of creative play also teaches children positive lessons about themselves: that even if things don't work out perfectly on the first try, with some perseverance they can still find success. From learning positive self-talk (“I got this!”) to taking pride in their accomplishments ("Look what I did!"), your child will grow up knowing that failure isn't something that defines them—it's something that helps them reach new heights.
4. Honor their emotions and feelings
When your child is upset, resist the urge to “fix” their feelings. Instead of saying “it’s not that bad,” try a phrase like “I’m so sorry you feel that way. I can see how much it really hurts you.” It's important to teach children from a young age that all emotions should be welcomed and honored, even the unpleasant ones—especially the unpleasant ones! It is okay to be angry or sad; this is part of being human. Your job as a parent is not to numb them out but instead to honor and validate their experience (and set boundaries where necessary). Empowering your child with mindfulness and self-awareness will help them better understand themselves and therefore better understand others—which leads us to our next tip for raising kind kids...
5. Use gentle language when caring for your child
To help guide your day-to-day interactions with your children, here are a few reminders to use gentle language when caring for them: Speak in a calm voice
Use words that show understanding and empathy Use positive, encouraging words Explain what you are doing, and why (with simple explanations)
6. Make connection a priority
We all know how important it is to connect with our children. Connection is the key ingredient in raising kids who are kind and intuitive, rooted and aware in the present. It’s why so many parenting experts preach that connection equals love — to the degree that we can connect with our children, the more they will feel safe enough to open up, share their thoughts and feelings, and learn from us in a safe space.
According to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2016 report, “The ability to build connections — across boundaries and distance — has never been more important. In a world of mobile technologies, social media networks, global teams, dispersed talent networks, and strategic partnerships … people increasingly need deep experience using collaborative tools at all levels of business.” And perhaps most importantly: connection is necessary for both happiness and success. Harvard researchers found that having strong connections with others keeps us happier than having more money or material possessions.
7. Be a role model
“Do as I say, not as I do.”
That's the last thing you want your kids to say about you. You want them to have an example of what it looks like to live mindfully, with intention, and be present, aware, connected; compassionate; kind; loving; gentle; vulnerable; playful; forgiving, self-aware, open, generous, honest, and patient. It can be challenging to be all of those things at once all the time (not that we should aim for perfection). We are human beings after all. But having these intentions for yourself will inspire your children to value and strive for them too in their own lives. The best way to raise children who are rooted and aware of the present, kind, and intuitive is by living it yourself!
In the end, the best way to raise kids who are rooted and aware of the present, kind, and intuitive is by living it yourself! You are the greatest teacher your children will ever have. You don't need to be perfect. It's not about perfection; it's about being real. What kids really want most is our time, love, and attention. They want us to be a part of their world and to connect with them on a one-on-one basis whenever possible. Focusing on the positive has proven effects on brain development in young children. The more positive interactions you have with your child, even when they're misbehaving or throwing tantrums, will create a positive brain environment for them and make them feel safe enough to explore the world around them! Allow your children to see you make mistakes and learn from them. Show them how to be kind and forgiving to yourself as well as others.
If you're a caregiver or parent and have found mindfulness to be helpful in your life, please share your experiences in the comments below! I'd love to hear what works for you.
And if you're looking for more resources on mindfulness as a caregiver or parent, visit The Mindful Care Collective they're an amazing organization that supports caregivers and parents in science-based Mindfulness and Stress Reduction training. Visit their website here to see all they have to offer.