Back to School Parenting

Mindful parenting is a great tool to consider for the new school year! As parents, we find that the opportunities for impulsive reactions are almost limitless. So, taking time to breathe and parent with intention is a gift we can give to our children. Here are some thoughts for you to consider as the school year begins:

Catch your child being good. Make an effort to provide positive feedback when your child behaves appropriately. We focus our attention so often on negative behaviors and provide little to no feedback when our children behave well. Positive feedback is far more fun, too!

Choose your battles. While choosing your battles is mindful parenting at its finest, it also helps with reducing conflict with teenagers. If the behavior “violation” is relatively minor, you can offer direct, calm feedback, without necessarily imposing a consequence.

Reduce debating. A spirited debate, regarding negotiable issues, often can be healthy and productive. But, we often find ourselves debating with our children about non-negotiable issues. One mindful approach is to avoid debates when the issue at hand is not up for negotiation.

Stop nagging. Children are smart. If we teach them that we are willing to repeat our requests 10 times, why would they respond after the first or second request? We accidentally train our children to ignore our initial requests! The solution is to minimize our repetition of requests and be clear that their compliance is expected in a timely fashion. Mindful parenting!

When to just listen: As parents, we want to help our children with their problems. So, when a child runs into the house crying about a fight with a friend, we try to understand what happened and offer suggested remedies. The more we try to suggest, the more upset a child (at any age) can become! Kids don’t really want someone to solve, advise, remind or teach. What they really need is a parent to simply listen mindfully. Solutions, advice, reminders and lessons can come later. When we really listen, we also can better understand a child’s feelings, thoughts and motives, which will help us become mindful advisors as a child ages.

JFS is here to support you and your children this school year. Reach out to us to join your parenting team!

Laurie Silver has been in private practice in Houston for almost 25 years. She has worked with Jewish Family Service on developing mental health programming including comprehensive suicide prevention and aftercare efforts.

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