Parents and kids have the ability to trigger each other as no one else can.It takes a lot of self-control not to just let out our anger – to react before thinking…to lash out. Do you know why?
If our brain perceives a threat, it signals the amygdala, body's “alarm" system, which tells our body to act without thinking. The amygdala responds to situations with the fight, flight, freeze response. In everyday parenting, our stress response often gets triggered unnecessarily by events that are not actually life threatening. Our bodies are reacting to our kid spilling cereal all over the floor in the same way we would react if we were being chased by a bear.
However, If we choose to be more mindful by pressing the pause button, we can teach kids they too can pause and choose to respond instead of react.
What does mindfulness mean in parenting?
Mindful parenting means that you bring your conscious attention to what's happening, instead of getting hijacked by your emotions. Mindful parenting does not mean being a “perfect parent" and is not something you can fail at. It is not easy and it takes practice, but like many aspects of parenting, some days are good and some are bad and you can always try again. You may forget to be mindful, but the second you realize you are distracted, it is an opportunity to make a different choice—the choice to respond and not react. This does not mean that you will not get angry or upset. Of course you will feel negative emotions, but acting on them mindlessly is what compromises our parenting. Practicing mindfulness allows us to model what having a Christ centered life looks like more than anything we can say to them.
Remember, you are their role model for how to handle situations when THEY are triggered. As you practice this with them, they will learn more creative ways to handle their anger and other big feelings.Even when you’re committed to responding instead of reacting and not yelling, there will still be times when you yell, roll your eyes, have tone, be critical, or act in some way that you aren’t so proud of. And that’s part of being human…we are imperfect and your kids are imperfect. But God is always growing and maturing us.Remember, after you react, make sure you repair trust. The good news is that struggle builds resilience. So you can let go of some of the guilt and focus on the repair and reconnection!