The Mindful Parent


In meditation, we learn to be still and to sit with our thoughts, our bodies and ourselves, without wanting to change anything. The mindful parent is able to practice being with their child without wanting to teach, fix, cure, control. They strive to be an observer and to allow the child's wisdom to come forth. There is no need for us to teach our children how to roll over onto their bellies, how to crawl, how to walk or how to dance. They will do it on their own, when they are ready, and they will gain a deep and lifelong sense of confidence. The mindful parent focuses their attention on deepening their own self-love and compassion and is aware of the quality of their words, tone, facial expressions and body language. Instead of trying to show the child how to do something, they sit back and allow for the struggle, the learning and the ultimate victory to take place.

Children naturally strive for independence and if parents or teachers attempt to correct or teach the child in the traditional sense, they are thwarting that drive. Maria Montessori observed that children acquire mastery through uninterrupted repetition of a task, they do not need to be corrected as soon as it is done "wrong". In a Montessori school, the curriculum is open ended and children learn through performing "real" tasks, over and over again. They derive a deep sense of self-satisfaction and inner discipline when allowed to clean their own table, put away their plate, sweep the floor (as early as the toddler age). Montessori understood the importance of respecting the rhythm of the child and knew that their rhythm is different from ours. True freedom is found in self-discipline and the appropriate environment provides the boundaries and the limits, but also the freedom of choice, time and movement.

Since our daughter was an infant, we respected her autonomy and her desire to explore. We didn't force her into physical postures that she couldn't get into herself (like tummy time or sitting her up before she could get to that posture on her own). I saw how accomplished and happy she felt as she progressed through the developmental milestones without my help. I would allow her to play freely with objects she was interested in without imposing my adult sense of how they should be manipulated or explored.

I value allowing children to work out their differences on their own, as long as they are not harming themselves or another. I see this daily as I do not tell my 2 year-old daughter to "share" if she and another child are interested in an object. I trust that they will work it out and they do. Adults easily project their insecurities and jump to "fix" a situation. I believe that parents and teachers must embody the characteristics they wish to see in the children. This is the most authentic way to show deep respect for the child. A helpful guideline is that the adult must not do for the child what the child can do for herself. I strive to practice this in my parenting and truly see the value of it. Allowing the child to struggle, within the parameters of an environment and a task that she can succeed at, is key to the arising of determination, persistence and self-confidence.

--Nina RamPrakash Kaur

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Great article about sharing