For the first few months of S’s life we were so immersed in the let’s-keep-this-baby-alive mode that we didn’t really approach the subject of actually raising our child. But in the past few months, as S has begun to interact with us and others, throwing little fits here and there and adorably throwing her food off the table when she’s done eating, it has become pretty clear that we need to have a discussion about how we are going to actually raise her; how we are going to give S the tools she needs to feel secure and thrive in her own way, to grow up a strong, healthy individual.
Of course, we have already set a tone and gotten used to doing things in a certain way in our family. But I don’t feel like playing by ear this whole parenting thing. Like breastfeeding, I feel that this is 80% instinct and a good 20% having an action plan based on good information. So I have really started observing others, reading, and asking myself: what kind of parents do we want to be?
From what I have gathered so far, positive parenting (or some variations of it, like mindful parenting) really resonates with me. So I’m going to start a new series on the blog called positive parenting in which I will try to figure out what this really means and whether it will work for us.
I will have to be a little academic about this, since I’m a new mom and I have no clue, really, how much of my research will turn into actual behaviour in our household. But I want to share this road with you because I know you might be asking yourself the same question and because I anticipate that this will be an ongoing conversation –And because I’ll be asking you all for advice. A lot.
To get started, I asked my friend and fellow mama Erin, the wonderful founder of The Mindful Parent, to give me a clear definition of mindful parenting. And I asked her to include an example of what it means when used in real life situations. I loved her answer and copied it in full for you below.
I hope this gets you thinking. And please do share your thoughts! I want this to be a lively discussion.
Mindful parenting is simply about being mindful of our actions and how we interact with our children and environment.
Pausing to breathe before responding (not reacting) to understand or investigate the cause of actions rather than just the action itself. It includes finding simpler ways to achieve goals that are respectful of the child and childhood process.
For example, my daughter has always been cooperative during diaper changes because we made them interesting and engaging. Rather than a mobile above her crib we installed a larger, homemade elaborate tree with birds and small mirrors above the diaper changing station. There was always something to observe and discuss.
At some point we moved and the tree was dismantled. Diaper changes were no longer as exciting and she began to protest. She would say she was “sleeping” and when that didn’t work the screeching would begin. It was the loud girlie screech that pops ear drums!
Our conversation about options started. “If you don’t want to change diapers anymore we can buy a potty”. This dialogue lasted close to two months. Included were books about potty time, trips to the bathroom with potty and even ‘help’ when we used the washroom ourselves. She would supply the toilet tissue for us and we would wash hands together. We endured the diaper difficulties for a period of time (two months) so that she would decide when it was time to switch to potty. We waited for her to be ready. We let her tell us rather than force it on her.
And she did. At diaper time one day my daughter said, “potty mommy”. “Potty time?” I asked in return. “Yes” she replied. Done! We went to the computer, logged on and ordered the potty we selected together. During the week it took to arrive we talked endlessly about the future use of potty. We planned potty parties.
It arrived. We unpacked it. She used it immediately. No encouraging from me required. Our diaper time now is simply “change or potty?” She picks the potty. “Potty Tiiiiiime” she says.
To keep her engaged while “waiting for the pee to arrive” we stocked the shelf with her potty books and, for some strange reason, a stuffed bunny.
Mindful Moments: we listened to her cues, waited for her to arrive at her own conclusion while providing clear options, provided support material throughout the process and said yes when she was ready. Most importantly we made it fun and stayed positive. We all achieved our end goal without any negativity. We mindfully guided her to make her own choices. We are mindfully growing a mindful child….we think.