I recently purchase a book called “Sitting Still Like a Frog” by Eline Snel which is a book of mindfulness exercises for kids and parents. I was attracted to the book as I thought the title was catchy and inspirational. It brought back memories of observing frogs in nature and how still they sit…..and then, how a sudden leap takes place as you get a little bit too close.
As a parent myself, I find there are unending opportunities to draw on my mindfulness practice as it seems almost every “button” that I ever had or thought I had gets pushed at one time or another in my interactions with the family. When this occurs, it seems like my reactivity compromises my wish for a family atmosphere characterized by mutual respect, compassion, friendliness, and caring.
Eline Snel suggests three qualities to develop through mindfulness that can be used to meet the challenges of parenting and I thought I would share them with you now.
The first quality is presence. Presence is an ability to be in the moment as it is, with an orientation of calmness and openness. This includes a willingness to be present with one own’s reactivity as well as an intention to try to see clearly what is happening in the situation that is presenting itself. It calls on us to be open and willing to be in the moment and to suspend jumping to quick judgment of the situation.
The second quality is understanding. Understanding involves putting yourself in your child’s shoes and seeing the world through his/her eyes. This effort on your part will help reveal what your child may need from you.
The third quality mentioned is acceptance, which involves accepting your child’s thoughts and feelings as they are. Just as you bring acceptance to your thoughts and feelings, the notion is that the same benevolence can be extended to your child. This does not mean that you have to put up with everything that your child does, however, acceptance of the thoughts and feelings will lead to a greater mutual understanding.