Whether it be online or in person, the start of this school year feels different. The diverse options for return and the fact that we are living in a historic pandemic have caused a surge of stress for students and parents. Now more than ever, students and parents need to keep their mental wellness in check.
During this time, parents need to remember that kids are their best imitators. If parents integrate mindfulness into family life, their kids will follow. In fact, a study from the University of Vermont showed that mindful parenting caused parents to engage in more positive parenting behavior, which resulted in more positive behavior in kids (meaning less acting out, anxiety, or depression).
Here are a few mindful parenting tips to support you during a uniquely challenging back to school season:
- Practice acceptance: Be willing to acknowledge whatever is happening in the current moment, whether it be good or bad. Instead of berating yourself, understand that mistakes happen. You can use this method if your child is struggling with online school, for example. The space of acceptance also allows you to choose how you want to respond to whatever is happening instead of reacting without thinking.
- Practice patience: Patience, especially in times of stress, fosters peace instead of anger and frustration. By tolerating any difficulties that are thrown your way, you are not only better-equipped to help your kid, you are also taking care of yourself. You can use this method if your child is throwing a tantrum or getting irritated during quarantine. Patience results in less stress – making it easier to face the challenges of parenting.
- Practice nonjudgment: When you pay attention to what is happening in the present moment nonjudgmentally – you become less reactive and more thoughtful. Instead of judging yourself (by feeling guilt or embarrassment), simply respond to the present moment. You can use this method if you have had to change your child’s normal routine during quarantine (for example, allowing them to watch lots of TV).
Teaching your kids to practice mindfulness can also be extremely valuable. To learn more about the benefits of mindfulness for kids and to get some tips, read my article on mindfulness for kids. Here are a few tips on teaching mindfulness to kids:
- Breathe deeply together– In the face of difficult emotions and rising frustrations, pause to acknowledge your children’s feelings and then take three deep breaths together. This simple practice of pausing and breathing will lower everyone’s stress levels and foster family harmony and healthy habits.
- Use mental anchors– To help your child improve their ability to focus and calm down, teach techniques such as counting breaths (inhaling for 3 counts and exhaling for 3 counts) or using a simple mantra such as, “Breathing in I calm the body; Breathing out I calm the mind.”
Finally, mindfulness can be a really valuable practice for teenagers facing the stress of Covid-19 as well as additional social and academic pressures. To learn more about mindfulness for teens, check out my article on mindfulness for teens. Here are a few tips on practicing mindfulness for teens:
- Practice mindful self-care –We teenagers can often feel so overwhelmed that we forget to practice self-care. Self-care actually helps us manage stress – and it does not have to take that long. Some examples of mindful self-care are starting a puzzle, taking time to stretch, or even taking some deep breaths.
- Meditate –I believe the practice of noticing the mind wandering and bringing attention back to the breath is very beneficial, especially since us teenagers are constantly distracted by lots of information online and in person. Meditations can be long or short, and there are many different types. Using apps like Headspace or Calm can help people get started. You can also enroll teens in Mastermind classes, which are suitable for ages 13 and up.
Adding these mindful techniques to your toolbox can be helpful as you face this new school year. To deepen your knowledge and connect with a likeminded community, join us September for Mastermind’s Mindful Parenting workshop with Dr. Adrianne Bagley.
About the Author:
Sonia Dhingrais a high school senior and a Mindfulness Manager at Mastermind Meditation. She has spent the last two summers interning with the Stress Solutions team at the Brain Performance Institute (part of the UT Dallas Center for BrainHealth). In her free time, she enjoys practicing photography and piano.