Wise Mind Counseling offers parent coaching in group and individual sessions (virtual or in-person). Parenting is a highly rewarding and difficult task. It is natural to feel pride in parenting skills, as well as disappointed or discouraged at times. Parent coaching offers supportive and non-blaming techniques in order to improve capabilities.
Mindfulness has been a buzz word for many years now. What does mindful parenting mean? Mindfulness is having awareness to the present moment, non-judgmentally. This means parenting in some of the following ways:
- Be totally present with your family letting go of planning or evaluating as often as possible.
- Notice your own thoughts and feelings during pleasant, neutral, and challenging times. This noticing will allow for a pause when needed to best respond to your child.
- Try to see your child’s point of view, considering what they may need, and think of how is it for them to have you as a parent.
- Set reasonable expectations and be sure they are truly in the best interest of your child.
- Foster your own self-awareness, self-knowledge, and loving kindness (maybe formal meditation practice) to offer your true self in any given moment to your child.
Accepting and validating communication is extremely helpful in parenting. This means finding what makes sense in what your child is saying and what their experience is. Offering collaborative and supportive responses can go a long way. This may include cheerleading your child, as well as avoiding criticisms. A non-judgmental communication style can decrease assumptions and negative reactions between you and your child. This style includes: describing the facts of the situation (avoiding assumptions- when you walked away from me instead of when you were a jerk to me), naming feelings (i.e., I felt hurt when you …..), and naming thoughts (i.e., I think you don’t care when you …..).
Problem Solving for Parents
Listening, validating, and offering non-judgmental responses is critical to positive parenting. Problem solving can also be just what is needed. There are many ways to change problem emotions or highly emotional times: if you can solve the problem, solve it. If you can ward off the problem from happening by changing the variables, do that. You may validate the difficulty your child is having (the tantrum) on a Monday morning, as well as solve a recurring problem with sleep over weekends in order to smooth over a Monday morning (for everyone!).
Distress Tolerance for Parents
Sometimes emotions are too high to offer validation or problem solve. Good news is there are skills for those in the moment crisis times that help decrease extreme body reactions and get one back to thinking and acting clearly, more in line with values. Here is a well-known DBT crisis survival skill: TIPP.
- T- Temperature. Get cold water on your face. The colder the water and the longer the immersion, the better. This will naturally tip your body to a calmer state.
- I – Intense exercise. Get active quickly. Think running, jumping jacks, burpees, etc. The time following quick exercise will tip your body to a more peaceful state.
- P – Progressive muscle relaxation. Use a recording or move through your muscles yourself from the top of your head to your feet. Data shows that the tighten then relax process is more effective than relaxation alone. This will tip your body into a relaxed state.
- P – Paced breathing. Belly breathing with a slower exhale. The exhale is key and may take up to ten minutes. This slowed process of breathing will tip your body into a soothing state.
Emotion Regulation for Parents
Learning to regulate emotions during a difficult parenting time is not easy – for your child and yourself. The TIPP skill above is a useful strategy that will allow for more emotion regulation once your body is calm. If the moment is not that intense and you can go straight to an emotion regulation skill, great! A helpful and often first used DBT emotion regulation skills is Observe and Describe. There are many roads to Rome in changing an emotion, and emotions are part of a system. The more awareness you have to what happened, your thoughts about what happened, your body, and then your emotion – the more regulated you will be!
Another goal of parent coaching is to increase pleasant family time. Every parent and family can have different values. The idea is to learn the skills above so that you are able to live more in line with your values, increase bonding and connection in your family, enhance self-esteem and self-respect for parent and child, and build confidence. What are your parenting values and how are you doing? If interested in parent coaching, contact me for more information.