Parenting is hard and there is no handbook. Yet, growing research is showing that the old ways of parenting are not as effective and more likely to be harmful to our children over time.
A pediatrics study showed that spanking a child more than twice a month at age 3 is correlated to an increase in the likelihood of aggressive behavior by age 5. Another study showed that mothers who displayed angry and punitive behaviors (slapping, spanking, and/or threatening) can become angry, which weakens the parent-child relationships.
Overall experts agree that the use of physical and verbal attacks can carry a number of adverse physical & mental health consequences over time. If you are like many of the professional moms I’ve worked with, you might be saying “well, I grew up being spanked and I turned out fine.” This may be the case. However, the evidence shows that even if the child becomes successful, there are both long-term mental and relationship consequences to this approach.
There is growing research to support more mindful approaches to parenting. Several studies show that positive parenting approaches can lead to a mentally and physically healthier well-adjusted child. Additionally, positive parenting can instill confidence and emotional intelligence in children. With the growing evidence to support mindful parenting approaches, perhaps it’s time to change our own parenting narratives. There are a number of things one can do to begin to shift your parenting style, but upgrading your parenting starts with upgrading your thinking. Here are 3 thought patterns we must begin to shift to be successful in being mindful parents.
1. Understanding that your child is not just mis-behaving.
The truth is your child is acting exactly in accordance with their developmental stage. There are 8 stages of psychosocial development according to Dr. Erik Erickson.
During each of these stages, there are basic conflicts that your child is negotiating, and when they successfully negotiate the conflict at that stage they can emotionally develop into the next stage. This is important because there are certain ways we can support our children in understanding what social-emotional stage they are in.
Furthermore, it gives us more compassion and understanding for their behavior and moves us away from the narrative of a “misbehaving” or “difficult child” label.
2. Understanding that your past trauma will affect your interactions with your child.
There is a saying that “hurt people hurt people”. Intergenerational trauma is a topic that is often spoken about, but not always given enough attention beyond mention. When we have unresolved trauma wounds as parents, we pass that hurt on to our children. It’s not always obvious, however, the damage we could be doing.
We often think of passing trauma on being through overt physical, emotional, or psychological abuse, but sometimes the hurt is