Being mindful of who you are as a parent benefits your child and supports your own mental health and well-being. And that’s precisely why conscious parenting habits are quickly taking the parenting world by storm. If you aren’t already familiar with this parenting style, conscious parenting is a connection-based approach that prioritizes relationships and mental health over parental dominance.
Maggie Holland, MA, MHP, LMHC, tells us that developing conscious parenting habits means focusing on parental mindfulness, self-awareness, and emotional regulation.
“Conscious parents monitor their own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to make thoughtful and emotionally-centered decisions when responding to their children,” says Holland. “This parenting philosophy aims to prevent negative parenting patterns by encouraging curiosity and mutual collaboration.”
So, want to learn how to implement conscious parenting habits in your own life? Keep scrolling. Today’s article is delving into the benefits of conscious parenting, as well as tips for practicing it on a daily basis.
What Is Conscious Parenting?
Conscious parenting habits encourage parents to become more mindful of their own reactions, self-beliefs, and internalized messages. By recognizing their selfhood, conscious parents are better able to understand how their own physical and mental well-being affects their relationships with their children. Additionally, they see beyond behavior and understand the ‘why’ behind their children’s actions.
While some people are under the impression that conscious parenting is permissive parenting, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Conscious parents are well aware of the importance of healthy boundaries. However, they don’t enforce them or lead in an authoritative way.
Instead of addressing a child’s behavior at the surface level, conscious parents go one step further and focus on “building a healthy parent-child relationship by remaining self-aware, collaborative, and understanding,” says Holland.
For that reason, conscious parenting requires ample self-reflection, as parents are constantly striving to understand their own learned and genetic behaviors, as well as child development.
Benefits of Conscious Parenting
One of the most popular benefits of conscious parenting is the fact that it allows children to have a childhood experience that differs from that of their parents. Conscious parents are mindful of how their contributions influence their child’s understanding of themselves. And it has many benefits as a result:
Strengthen the Parent-Child Bond
Attachment theory tells us that primary caregivers who are available and responsive to a child’s needs help them develop a sense of security. And conscious parenting habits offer a safe foundation for your child to explore and learn about the world. Additionally, this parenting style lets your child know that they can come to you with the good and the bad (and everything in between), promoting secure attachment.
Create an Emotionally Resilient Child
Because conscious parents help their children regulate their emotions, they enter adulthood confident in their ability to self-regulate and navigate emotional hurdles. Similarly, children learn by their parent’s example, and parents who notice and regulate their own emotions provide their children with a blueprint to do it themselves.
Develop Healthy Communication Skills
When you’re regularly checking in with your own emotional space, you have a greater ability to talk through and navigate your child’s problems with them. As you can imagine, this routine teaches your child that you’re someone they can trust–which makes all aspects of parenting much easier.
Numerous studies have revealed the health benefits of mindfulness. And when moms make an effort to parent consciously, they experience lower levels of stress and anxiety, as well as reduced blood pressure.
Foster Mutual Respect
Children learn how to behave by watching their parents. And when parents are mindful of their actions, their children tend to follow suit. If a parent speaks in a lowered voice—using thoughtful and respectful language—their child will mimic that behavior. As you can imagine, this forges a relationship that is grounded in mutual respect.
Conscious Parenting Habits
Conscious parenting begins with intentionality and compassion. But from there, where do you go?
If you’re unsure how to begin conscious parenting, cultivating habits that prioritize the connection you have with your child is a good place to start:
Develop Non-Violent Communication Skills
Conflict is a natural, healthy component of human relationships. (And just because you engage in conscious parenting work doesn’t mean it goes away.) However, conscious parents don’t take their anger or resentment out on their children, and they try to avoid passing on any stressors or unresolved trauma.
What does that look like? Well, instead of blaming and shaming, conscious parents display empathy and offer positive discipline techniques. Whenever they make a mistake (because conscious parents are still human, believe it or not), they demonstrate healthy conflict management techniques and utilize effective communication skills.
Here’s an example:
Instead of yelling at your child for spilling their dinner plate, pause, take a breath, and remember that accidents happen. Maybe tell your child that you’re frustrated, but you know it was an accident. Ask them to grab a rag. Then, wipe the mess up together.
Prioritize Your Own Well-Being
As we mentioned, conscious parents are attuned to their internal consciousness and prioritize their overall well-being. Doing so ensures they have the emotional capacity to meet their children where they’re at and approach situations with compassion and understanding.
One study suggests that parents with poor health display negative parenting styles and experience increased disruptive behavior from their children. That’s why maintaining your physical and emotional health is a necessary component of a conscious parent.
If you need some inspiration, here are examples of positive habits that conscious parents can start implementing (and role modeling for their children) on a daily basis:
- Gratitude journaling
- Healthy eating habits
- Prayer or meditation
- Getting adequate sleep
- Daily movement and exercise
- Speaking to a counselor or therapist
- Finding stress management techniques that work for them
Have Conversations at Your Child’s Level
Oftentimes, telling children to do things “because mom said so” only increases conflict and disobedience. That’s why conscious parenting aims to empower children with the ability to express how they feel. And generally, that means including them in conversations about your disciplinary choices.
Whenever conscious parents make disciplinary decisions, they help their children understand why that decision was made. In addition, they also ask their child how they feel about that decision, and they try their best to meet them where they’re at whenever that is possible.
By acknowledging both of your feelings with respect, you’re teaching your child to think critically about their actions. This further develops their emotional intelligence.
One study found that gentle encouragement and positive reinforcement toward a toddler’s fear of socializing supported them in their social situations, as it promoted emotional regulation and self-awareness. So, instead of offering their children unsolicited advice and expecting them to follow through, conscious parents strive to collaborate with their kids whenever possible.
Here’s an example:
Instead of randomly signing your child up for a soccer team to develop their teamwork skills, tell them that there are all sorts of benefits to playing sports and that you think they would enjoy it. Then, ask your child if any particular sport appeals to them.
Being attuned and having open conversations with your child does not mean there can’t be structure. Conscious parents kindly—yet firmly—set healthy boundaries. And as we mentioned, they help their children understand the reasoning behind those limitations whenever possible.
When setting boundaries—like bedtimes, screen time, or chore responsibilities—try to be as clear and direct as possible, as this will help avoid misunderstandings. Remember to include your child in the boundary-setting process, and they will feel like they share ownership and agreement with you while still feeling safe.
Conscious Parenting Is the Act of Maintaining a Relationship with a Separate Individual
Conscious parents see their children as individual people (instead of younger, replica versions of themselves). And because every person has their own interests, desires, and reasoning, conscious parents strive to understand and honor those individual differences.
Instead of viewing parenthood as a transaction, conscious parents understand that every minuscule interaction contributes to an overall relationship with their child. When conflict arises, they respond to their child’s behaviors (instead of merely reacting). And instead of blindly addressing and correcting behaviors, conscious parents focus on understanding the feelings and emotions behind their children’s actions.
If you want to start implementing conscious parenting habits in your life, rest assured that it’s easier than you might think. With a little discipline, patience, and a lot of self-reflection, anyone can start parenting consciously.