Mindful parenting


Parenting can be challenging - making decisions and juggling responsibilities while addressing your children's needs. 

Our busy daily lives can make it difficult to stay present and connected with our children.

Practicing mindful parenting can help us to navigate these challenges and stay connected amongst the chaos and to help us stay calm as a parent.

On this page:

What is mindful parenting?

father and child blowing bubbles

Mindful parenting is the practice of applying mindfulness to your day-to-day parenting. It means letting go of the idea that things need to be perfect, or that you need to be the perfect parent. 

It encourages you to bring a sense of kindness and non-judgment to your parenting journey. It also enables you to be emotionally aware and demonstrate compassion for yourself and your children.

There are many ways to practice, but the most important thing is to find what works for you and your child.

How can I become a mindful parent?

Becoming a more mindful parent starts with you. As parents, we often prioritise our children's needs over our own. However, it's important to remember to take care of ourselves too. By practising self-care and self-kindness, we can become more present and connected to our children's needs.

The video below gives some practical tips and advice: 

NCT (National Childbirth Trust) also explains mindful parenting in more detail whether it may be right for you and your family.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a practice designed to help you be fully present in the moment, rather than thinking about the past or worrying about the future. 

Getting started: Incorporating mindfulness practices into your daily routine

  • Be in the moment. Resist living in the past or planning too intently for the future. Find the good in what is happening right now, right in front of you.
  • Practice acceptance. Try your best to accept your child’s emotions and actions, even when they frustrate you. (And extend this acceptance to yourself.)

The benefits of mindfulness

Mindfulness has many benefits for both parents and children. The practice of slowing down and being fully present with your child allows you to: 

  • Respond to behaviours rather than react. 
  • Help you and your child both feel calmer and in control.
  • Find greater peace and happiness in your daily life. 
  • Make parenting a more rewarding experience.
  • Improve family communication, creating a caring environment for children to thrive.

Even better, neuroscience also shows us that mindful practices strengthen parts of your child's developing brain that help with remaining calm during stressful events. This means:

  • Better understanding of emotions and difficult feelings. 
  • Less anxiety and stress. 
  • Improved focus and attention. 
  • Better sleep.
  • Increased resilience.
  • Kinder attitude towards others, including our pets. 

Mindfulness ideas

Mindful eating

family eating together

Pause before eating, just long enough for one whole breath. Eat slowly and mindfully, appreciating each bite, and notice the taste, texture, and smell of the food. Eat without distractions such as phones or television.

Practice gratitude 

Take a moment before going to bed to appreciate something good that has happened in the day. Even something small, think of one small thing that went well today. By practicing this regularly you can train your thought process away from being negative.

To get started, try:

Building daily mindful routines

  • Begin with small steps 
  • Choose one mindful activity each day to practice and establish a habit.   
  • As each habit strengthens, try adding another. 

Before you know it, you will have daily routines that help support a calm and mindful lifestyle.

More resources:

How to teach your child mindfulness

Learning to be mindful with your child can be a wonderful way of building connections. It can be used throughout your child's daily routines and incorporated into activities such as:

  • Mealtimes 
  • Bath time
  • A walk in the park

Being present and fully engaged in these moments, can help create lasting memories and strengthen your bond with your child.

Before you begin to teach your child how to be mindful you should:

  • Practice mindfulness yourself, your child will learn by watching you and other adults in their lives. 
  • Bring the practices to the level of your child.
  • Ensure that the practices are simple and fun! 

Teaching your child mindfulness is a journey and it is okay to take it slowly. The goal is to create a positive and nurturing environment that allows your child to explore and develop a mindfulness practice at their own pace.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Mindful listening 

Ask your child to close their eyes and focus on the different sounds around them. This exercise can help them to improve concentration skills and be fully present.

Mindful movement

happy family in the park

Children often have boundless energy, and movement can them help channel it constructively. Physical practices that can help include:

Find your smile

Encourage your child to smile (just a slight upturn on the lips will do) as they breathe out. Science shows that just moving your facial muscles into a smile makes you happier! 

Help your child become a champion of their emotional well-being by introducing the power of breathing.

Breathing exercises 

When your child is stressed or overwhelmed, asking them to "breathe" may not always be helpful. 

Teaching your child simple breathing exercises can empower them with a coping mechanism they can use independently when faced with stress or challenging situations.

This video clip shows how your child can manage their strong emotions through mindful breathing.

Try watching this clip with your child and explain that a mindful jar is like a magic bottle filled with water and shiny things like glitter or small toys.

When we shake it up, it's like our busy thoughts and feelings. But as the glitter slowly falls, it helps us calm down and feel peaceful, just like our minds when we take deep breaths and relax. This link shows you how to make your own mindful jar.

Here are some breathing exercises you can try at home:

  • Teddy bear breath:  
    • Lie down with your favourite stuffed toy/pillow or even smartphone and place the object on your belly. 
    • As you breathe in, notice the object move up, and as you breathe out, notice the toy move down. 
    • Continue for a few rounds. 
    • Place the toy gently to one side and help yourself up to sit. 
  • Hand breathing: This is a simple exercise from Doctor Karen Treisman that can quickly help focus and calm.
  • Cake breath
boy blowing a dandelion

Or, simply ask your child to:

  • Settle into a seat of their choice — a chair, on the floor, or even tucked into bed. 
  • Close their eyes and imagine a giant birthday cake just for you covered in brightly lit candles. 
  • Take a deep breath in and smell the flavour of this cake. Is it chocolate? Vanilla? Strawberry? 
  • Now blow out all the candles. 
  • Open your eyes and see how you feel. 

Keep it fun and simple and help your child want to come back for more!

Further resources

Barnardo's Looking after a young person's mental well-being offers a mindfulness section and video. 

BBC Children in Need Mindfulness Hub - for more ideas and downloadable resources 

Free mindful music and story clips to help you and your child. 

Mindful Parenting for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) from Mindful - article explains the benefits of mindfulness for children with ADHD

Slow Down: How Mindful Parenting Benefits Both Parents and Kids from betterup.com

Last updated on 6 March 2024