Understanding mindful parenting

Highly educated psychotherapist and author Julie Wright explains what it means to be a mindful parent, especially in moments of stress and frustration. Watch this video for great tips on parenting and communicating with your child.
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Understanding mindful parenting

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When we think of the word mindful, we think of being present, we think of being in the moment, we think of being without judgment and purposeful. What I like to add to that is called mind sight. It's an interpersonal neurobiology term which means that not only am I present and aware and centered, but I'm also attuned to you, I'm in relationship with you. It's very easy to have this kind of connection with our child when they're bright eyed and bushy tailed and adorable. But how do we keep this communication open and stay connected to our children when they're sad, or mad, or in some form of distress or scared? The thing I love to ask adults is, when you're sad, or mad, or scared, or in some kind of distress, what do you most want from the person closest to you in that moment? And I've asked this to many, many groups of parents, and over and over again, I get the same answers. People say, I want to be listened to, I want to be heard, I want to be understood, I want to be acknowledged. In essence, what they're saying is I want empathy. I want the person to really see me and get me. And then I say to them, well, tell me what you don't want in those moments that you often get? And again, I always get the same answers. I don't want to have my feeling dismissed, or discounted, I don't want to be judged for my feeling, I don't want to be pacified, I don't want an immediate fix. So, if you think about those answers and you think about how can I do this with my baby when they're in their difficult moments? The first step is the step that's the hardest for us to remember which is to connect to our child and all of their feelings, to take time to really see them, and hear them, and feel their feeling and let them know that we understand them. The word that I like best for this is called acknowledging, and we say acknowledging is key. If you can pause and get close to your child and reflect back to them and use a word that connects to that feeling, over time the goal is that you will have a child who feels safe showing all their feelings to you and will eventually be able to verbalize their feelings to you. So, in mindful parenting the acknowledging step usually comes first, but it doesn't mean that you're not going to hold a limit or discipline your child or make sure that they're doing what they need to do in the moment. And I think that's often a misconception of mindful parenting.

Highly educated psychotherapist and author Julie Wright explains what it means to be a mindful parent, especially in moments of stress and frustration. Watch this video for great tips on parenting and communicating with your child.

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Julie Wright, MFT

Psychotherapist & Author

Julie Wright, MFT is a marriage and family therapist with an extensive background in infant mental health and early childhood development.  She trained at Cedars Sinai Early Childhood Center and co-developed a program for parents and babies from 0-3 at LA Child Guidance Clinic. Julie specializes in mindful parenting, sleep issues and attachment theory.  She also works in private practice with infants, children, parents and adults.  Julie lives in Los Angeles with her son and often visits family on the east coast.

Julie has written the book, "The Happy Sleeper," Penguin 2014 with her colleague, Heather Turgeon, MFT. The Happy Sleeper gives the topic of baby sleep a fresh perspective. Their approach moves beyond old school ideas like “sleep training”—it’s grounded in research and shaped by new thinking. The Happy Sleeper gives you a clear, easy-to-follow system for transferring the role of independent sleep to your capable child, as they have done for thousands of families in their clinical practice.

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