Our March meeting was a wonderful presentation on "Mindful Parenting" by child/family therapist and parenting coach Francine Ronis. Francine began with a description of an upsetting scenario. She had us notice our reactions to her description and then led us through a visualization exercise, after which it was much easier to imagine clear-headed responses. Focusing on the now -- as opposed to an imagined future or to what a situation says about our own pasts -- can really help us to address issues as they are coming up for our kids, without all that baggage and instead just with what we see in front of us.
One strategy that can make a big shift in our relationships with our children (and with anyone else!) is to show empathy by mirroring back to a person what you heard him or her say. It doesn't help to tell someone not to worry, or that they're going to be fine. That just makes a person feel like you weren't listening or don't value his/her experience. Instead, offer just a restatment of whatever the person said, such as "You don't want to (do X)" or give a child the "feelings" language that labels what they are expressing: "It sounds like you are ... " (sad, mad, happy or scared, or some variation of the big four).
There were lots of great tips through Francine's talk and from questions and answers.
For more on mindful parenting, Francine referenced the following books:
- Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Myla Kabat-Zinn and Jon Kabat-Zinn
- Parenting From the Inside Out by Daniel J. Siegel and Mary Hartzell
- How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish