The most impactful parenting approaches focus on the one-factor caregivers can control. Themselves!
The conscious parenting movement has taken off in recent years, empowering parents to look within and model a mindful approach to discipline. While many parents agree with the concept, they may find it challenging to apply this often abstract method in daily life.
This post will walk through four easy-to-implement conscious parenting examples and key tips to help you adopt a positive, intentional approach to raising kids.
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What is Conscious Parenting?
Clinical psychologist Dr. Shefali Tsabary most notably coined the term “conscious parenting” after writing the book The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children in 2010.
Conscious parenting has since emerged as a new way of childrearing that values the independent thoughts and feelings of the child.
Conscious parents are present and in the moment with their kids. They seek opportunities to self-reflect and mindfully choose effective discipline practices that strengthen the parent-child relationship.
Conscious parents value and prioritize their children’s social-emotional development.
What is unconscious parenting?
Unconscious parenting describes the way parents unknowingly and automatically respond to their children. Without self-awareness and an intentional approach to discipline, parents will often default to the same childrearing patterns they experienced growing up.
As a result, conscious parents are encouraged to “heal their inner child.” In other words, be mindful of how their childhood experiences may negatively influence their parenting.
Conscious Parenting Book by Dr. Shefali
If you’d like to dive deep into what conscious parenting is all about, check out Dr. Shefali’s book, The Conscious Parent.
Discover how our children can teach us about our “forgotten selves.” Most importantly, learn how to cope with your own early experiences to avoid a negative impact on your parenting journey.
Conscious Parenting Pros & Cons
There are a lot of benefits to being a conscious parent, but there are also a few cons or challenges.
- Improved emotional well-being for parent
- Promotes healthy social-emotional development for children
- Strengths parent-child relationship
- Promotes a positive approach to discipline, backed by research
- Can uncover “old wounds” for parents*
- Not a “mainstream” approach to discipline (partner, co-parent, or loved ones may not be on board)
- An endless journey of self-awareness and learning for parents
*Certainly, conscious parents would argue that sweeping old wounds under the rug will have an inevitable negative impact on their children. You will need to do some challenging inner work after uncovering those wounds; however, this process will spare your child the burden of doing so on your behalf.
How to Practice Conscious Parenting with 4 Inspirational Examples
Let’s delve into 4 key conscious parenting tips you can implement for a more mindful family life.
#1: Look inward first to resolve family problems.
Rather than trying to “fix” the child, conscious parents first look in the mirror when tackling a problem.
For example, if a child behaves aggressively, the parent would first examine their response to that behavior.
If a parent is reacting with aggression (e.g., yelling, spanking), they are inadvertently teaching their child to cope with anger in a hostile manner.
Rather than punishing a child for their behavior, conscious parents focus on modeling a calm response and healthy coping skills.
Conscious parents strive to uphold the true meaning of the word discipline, “to teach.”
#2: Recognize that your children are their own people with their own emotions.
Simply put, you and your child are separate beings.
When our children are young, it’s easy to view them as an extension of ourselves. After all, they rely on us for so much.
But the truth is, they are their own selves. Worthy of their own feelings.
Children deserve the opportunity to experience life’s ups and downs, as much as we may desire to shield them from all emotional pain.
Here are two key examples of how you can apply this conscious parenting concept in your daily life:
- Model kindness and teach critical social/emotional skills. At the same time, experience comfort in knowing you cannot control another human being and their actions.
- Rather than signing your child up for 100 different activities or your preferred childhood activity, sit back, observe, and allow your child’s natural interests to lead the way.
#3: Be present in the presence of your kids.
Conscious parents strive to be mindfully present, particularly when in the presence of their children.
Mindfulness is most critical when big emotions are at play. When your child is upset, model active listening by:
- Allowing them to see you put distractions away.
- Keeping an open body posture.
- Remaining silent until they finish talking.
- Using open-ended prompts if they need help (e.g., “What happened next? How were you feeling?”)
- Paraphrasing without correction or advice.
Conscious parents strive to connect with their children before they revisit boundaries.
By actively listening and remaining present with our kids, we can empower them to become collaborative problem solvers. Taking time to listen also helps us avoid unconscious discipline methods such as punishments or demands.
4: Discipline (teach) your kids from a “place of calm,” rather than in the heat of the moment.
One of the most challenging yet impactful conscious parenting practices is avoiding power struggles. Conscious parents do not take children’s behavior personally.
They provide kids the time and space to experience difficult or uncomfortable emotions rather than trying to “fix” or dismiss them.
Unfortunately, society has taught us to address and punish undesired behavior right away to make an impact. In most cases, this leads to more harm than good, particularly if emotions are also running high for us as parents.
Conscious parents have the confidence to stray from society’s timeline. The quality of a calm and connected conversation will always outweigh a split-second decision in the heat of the moment.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Conscious Parenting
FAQ #1: “What are the four parenting styles?”
The four parenting styles are authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and neglectful/uninvolved.
- Authoritarian: Parents exert strict control and use fear to coerce their children. They make demands and expect children to follow them without question.
- Authoritative*: Parents provide warm, nurturing support while setting clear boundaries for their children. They empower kids to express their feelings and opinions. Parents help kids build new skills by collaborating in the problem-solving process.
- Permissive: Parents allow their children to do whatever they want with little to no discipline or rules.
- Uninvolved/Neglectful: Parents have little to no involvement in their children’s lives or upbringings.
*Conscious parenting most closely aligns with an authoritative parenting style.
FAQ #2: “How do you explain conscious parenting to others?”
A conscious parent is a caregiver who has committed to raising their child(ren) with awareness, love, and compassion.
Conscious parents are mindful of what they say and do and how they interact with their children. They are present in the moment with their kids and strive to understand what they need.
Most importantly, conscious parents are aware of how their thoughts, feelings, and experiences impact their parenting role.
FAQ #3: “How do you raise a conscious child?”
Many conscious parents ask themselves this question. Here are a few steps you can take to help your child grow in their self-awareness.
- Talk to them about their beliefs and values and why they believe in them.
- Provide safe opportunities for them to make their own decisions, even if it means disagreeing with you sometimes.
- Let them know that they don’t need to follow any societal norms if they don’t want to, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.
- Always be honest with your children.
The last thing you need to know about conscious parenting examples
The last thing you need to know about conscious parenting examples is that it’s not easy. It is, however, well worth it.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider starting small. One small daily task to increase your self-awareness as a parent will have a tremendous impact over time.
I invite you to join thousands of your fellow loving parents from around the globe in taking on Such a Little While’s free 30-day positive parenting challenge. You’ll gain a strong foundation in a positive approach to discipline in just a few minutes each day.
You’ve got this!