Parents can feel extra busy, distracted and stressed around the holidays, often stirring the same emotions in their children, says Jill Walls, a professor of family studies and child development.
However, just as parents’ stress can rub off on their children, parents’ calm and mindful approach to the holidays can help children to follow suit. In other words, children are in tune with their parents’ emotional state, she said.
“To me, being mindful means slowing down, putting aside my concerns about the past and future, and centering my attention on my children and our interactions,” Walls said. “Sometimes this means turning off the television and the ringer on my cell phone. Sometimes this means reminding myself to put aside other thoughts so that I can focus on what’s happening right now.
“This sounds like such a simple task, but it’s not always easy. It takes practice, discipline and intention. I think many parents are accustomed to multitasking because that’s often what life requires of us. Mindfulness is very different in that it requires us to stop doing other things and focus on one thing – time with our children.”
Walls points out that mindful parenting really is a gift for children through undivided attention and love.
“And to be realistic, this does not mean parents have to set aside an entire day or even several hours in order to practice mindfulness. Try to be fully present with your child for 15-30 minutes as a start. See what happens!”
Some great activities for practicing mindfulness with children during the holidays include baking, coloring, playing in the snow and listening to music, Walls said.
Submitted by Marc Ransford of Ball State University.
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