Hello and welcome to the world of conscious parenting! “What’s conscious parenting?” we hear you cry. Don’t worry, we hear that a lot! But our aim is to help you understand this relatively new and unexplored style of parenting and show you how you can implement it into your everyday lives to help raise amazing children that are not only well rounded people, but also conscious of the world around them.
What is conscious parenting?
There are many different ways of parenting: There are the overbearing parents that try to control every aspect of their children’s lives. There are the helicopter parents that are constantly checking in on what and how their kids are doing. There are the hands-off parents that step back and let their children learn and grow for themselves. All of these have their upsides and their downsides. But today let’s talk about conscious parenting: what does it involve, what do you do to be a conscious parent, and how can it benefit your children?
Conscious parenting is considered a new-age form of positive parenting where mothers and fathers provide their children with all they will need to grow and thrive and become generally all-round amazing and conscious people. It encourages you to teach them self-regulation, resiliency and helps define and shape their perspectives, beliefs, self-concepts and outlooks.
These things can be imprinted on children from a very young age. Just like parents throughout the ages have taught children to be kind, honest, and happy, modern conscious parents can teach their children how they should believe and how they should strive to change the world around them for the better. The difference is that while in the past parents have taught children to be concerned about personal things that will benefit them, conscious parents also teach their children to think about other people and the world around them.
Parents must learn to control their own instincts and emotional responses towards their children in order to maintain a level of control in any given situation and help their children work through their feelings and issues. In layman’s terms this means parents are able to make safe, healthy and rational choices rather than be guided by feelings and emotions. That is not to say that the parent/child relationship is devoid of love – of course it’s not – but parents must be able to separate themselves from it for the betterment of their kids. In doing so parents will not only learn a lot more about their children but also a lot more about themselves!
Conscious parenting promotes self-reflection and self-control and truly is as much about the parent as it is about the child! You have to learn to be able to let go of your own ego, desires and attachments.
In short conscious parenting is about nurturing your child and shaping their present and their future. Conscious parenting takes a lot of thought and effort, but the benefits to the future of your children are immense and immeasurable. Being able to connect with your child as an individual is something that is sadly lacking in this day and age, and conscious parenting is about bringing that back and using it to everyone’s advantage. It doesn’t require you to abandon any of your old parenting techniques, rather just adapt them and find ways in which this new style can fit into your old one.
Overall though we must identify the fact that parenting really is a journey, an emotional education in spirituality, psychology and the human nature. Of all the ways of parenting that I have mentioned, there is no right or wrong way of doing it. It’s all down to personal choice and the kind of people you want your children to become. Conscious parenting is but one avenue that is becoming increasingly popular amongst parents that want nothing but the best for their children and their futures.
What does conscious parenting look like?
So we’ve discussed what conscious parenting is and what the desired outcomes of this new method of parenting are, but still a big question looms: what does conscious parenting actually look like? How do you consciously parent in practice? Well here we hope to shed a little more light on this method of parenting and hopefully you can begin to incorporate some of the tips and tricks into your daily lives!
Okay let’s set the scene: Your child sat at the table eating their dinner but they don’t want to finish the peas and just want to move on to dessert – chocolate cake. But you tell them they have to finish their peas before they’re allowed dessert. They refuse. So you ask them again to finish their peas – a little more sternly this time. Once again they refuse. Things are getting a little heated so you sternly ask them one more time…and they just push the plate across the table and start to cry.
Here’s where you have to make a choice. You could get mad and angry, or you could instead consider an alternate way of doing things. Firstly you need to control the environment: return the plate back in front of them and ask them to eat 10 peas before they get dessert. Maybe it could turn into a bit of a counting game. Alternatively you could scoop some up onto a fork and say that you want them to have 5 fork-full’s of peas. This lays out rules and clear guidelines for the child that they can understand and hopefully follow.
You also need to regulate your own emotions. You look at the table and see your child’s plate pushed into the middle, a few peas scattered around, and your child throwing a tantrum because they can’t have chocolate cake. It’d be easy to blow your top and raise your anger and frustration level to that of your child’s! But it’s important that you don’t do that and instead remain calm. Deep breaths and controlling your internal mood really helps. It sets an example to your child as to how they should react in this kind of situation and teaches them that you shouldn’t meet anger with anger. This alone might be enough to calm them down!
Next up you need to connect with the child. Pulling rank and playing the “because I’m the parent and I say so” card is all well and good from time to time, but what is more effective is getting down to the child’s level and engaging with them human-to-human. Literally get to their eye level, ask them why they’re upset, is there something else behind it? Are they tired? Worried? Let them express what they are feeling in a calm and controlled way. This teaches your child that problems can and should be talked through to find a solution, instead of throwing a tantrum because they didn’t get what they wanted.
Maybe because of how they reacted they still won’t be allowed the chocolate cake, but they might have a greater understanding of why their actions had that particular consequence. They might also have learned how to better deal with the situation the next time they don’t want to eat their peas thanks to how you dealt with it and how you interacted with them and explained your thought processes.
Then after the situation is defused and over, the final step is to look inwards at yourself and understand why you got angry in the first place. What triggered you, what made you act like you did before the conscious parenting. This is not an exercise to assign blame, rather to ask the question “why” and then try to figure out the answers.
This is conscious parenting in practice! If you need a little more info or advice there are plenty of really useful websites out there that can help!
What is eco-conscious parenting?
It is no big secret that the world is a mess right now! The amount of waste we as a species produce is staggering, and the damage it does to the planet and the environment is starting to reach the point of no return. So it is very important to try to teach your kids to be conscious when it comes to the environment and think about the damage that their actions and choices might have on the world around them.
On the face of it being a parent isn’t the most eco-friendly thing ever: baby wipes, disposable nappies, car emissions when you’re driving your kids here and there…It’s easy to think that there’s no way you can change or help. But you can! So let’s discuss a couple of these things and how you can become a more environmentally friendly parent!
Baby wipes are a big problem in the world as most of them do not decompose naturally, meaning that when they end up in a hole in the ground somewhere then that’s where they’re going to stay for years and years and years. This is of course damaging to the soil and all the insects and animals that live in it. So instead of baby wipes why not try using damp toilet paper, cotton wool and water or even reusable wipes? All these eco-friendly, recyclable or reusable!
Buying food for a baby is an expensive job. Companies know that parents are going to be (understandably) concerned about what foods, ingredients and chemicals go into their babies and they capitalise on this by cornering the market and bumping the price up. But have you ever considered making your own simple baby food? Purees are quick and easy to make, and are a very cheap option if you grow your own vegetables. And not only does it save you money but it also creates no waste meaning that there will be no damage to the environment! Alternatively you could buy locally sourced and produced baby food. The shorter the distance the food had to travel, the less emissions being pumped out when it was being transported!
A clean home is a healthy home. That’s what they say, right? And we all want a clean home to raise our children in! Well that might not necessarily be the case. Many products are pretty toxic and they can be damaging to both our bodies and the environment. Harsh chemicals will damage our skin and aerosols will pollute the air. But there are eco-friendly alternatives available that will cause little to no damage to the environment! You could try diluting your cleaning products or using less in order to ensure that you are putting fewer harmful substances out there into the environment. Then your clean home truly can be a healthy home!
While this blog post might sound very focussed on adults and parents, by following some of the tips and tricks it also sets a good example to our children. If you can raise your children in an environmentally friendly and eco-conscious home then they are more likely to grow up and look after the world around them.
There are some handy websites that can give you a whole list of even more tips and tricks to help you become an eco-conscious parent and teach your children to become environmentally friendly!
How does conscious parenting differ from traditional parenting?
You might not really know all that much about conscious parenting and what methods and processes are involved, but don’t worry, we’re here to help! So let’s take a delve into how this increasingly popular new form of positive parenting differs from other more traditional forms of parenting!
First off let’s talk about the main focus of the different parenting styles. Traditionally the child is the main focus of parenting, however with conscious parenting the main focus of the adult should be the internal world of the parent and their own mental wellbeing. This allows them to better understand themselves and better understand what their child needs and how to give it to them.
The main tools of traditional parenting are discipline and punishments. If your child does something wrong they get punished because traditionally actions have consequences. But with conscious parenting the main tool would be to develop a connection with a child and interact with them on a humanistic, equal level.
Traditionally children have been seen as objects (okay, objects with personalities and differences and thoughts and feelings, but still objects). But children are so much more than that! Luckily conscious parenting encourages parents to see their children as teachers and people they can learn from and grow alongside. It encourages mental and emotional education and growth between the parent and the child.
But what about the results of parenting? Traditional styles of parenting can result in power struggles, rebellion, a dependence on consequences and even broken relationships. Fortunately conscious parenting tries to purge these negative results altogether, instead aiming for deeper connection, greater influence and greater self-control.
And who inspired the traditional forms of parenting? Mainly habits, outdated beliefs and childhood experiences. Parents just perpetuate the cycle, raising their children in the same ways they were raised. However conscious parenting was influenced by nothing but science and research. Experts around the world conducted experiments and undertook research to find the best way to raise a well-rounded child, and conscious parenting was the result.
As you can see the differences between traditional parenting and conscious parenting are pretty stark, and for someone first venturing into the world of conscious parenting it can be a very different and maybe even shocking experience. But the beauty of becoming a conscious parent is you can start to adapt the traditional methods and over time start to transfer across to the conscious positive parenting style.
Some things will work for you and your kids, some things won’t, but that’s the same with any and all parenting styles. It is all about finding the perfect thing not only for your child but for you and your own mental wellbeing too!
Why is conscious parenting important?
Parenting is important! This is a stone cold fact! It is important to raise your children correctly, it is important that you teach them the rights and wrongs in life, it is important that you do all you can to ensure that they have an amazingly bright, happy and successful future. It’s all part of what being a positive parent is about!
But you’d be forgiven if you thought that parenting was all about the kids. Truth be told it’s just as much about you as a parent as it is your child. Especially when it comes to conscious parenting! It is important that you learn and grow yourself as a person. That you develop emotionally and connect with your child on an equal level of trust, love and respect.
Conscious parenting can be linked closely to maintaining a positive outlook, and a good overall mental health. We are constantly being told to stay fit and stay healthy physically, but mental health doesn’t get the attention that it deserves. Things are definitely getting better, and more people are conscious of their own mental wellbeing, but conscious parenting really does bring the issue to the forefront. Because to engage in positive parenting and raise a conscious child you have to start by working on yourself.
No one will deny that raising a child is a stressful thing. The late nights, the worrying, the running backwards and forwards…ugh, yes, it can be a bit of a nightmare (in the best way, obviously!) But conscious parenting promotes emotional self-regulation, so if you feel things building up or getting too much you just take a moment for yourself, breathe, centre yourself and reduce your own stress. Be zen!
You can actually look at conscious parenting as a type of meditation and even apply the things you learn while raising your children to every other aspect of your life!
Similarly parents can have a lot of worries and woes. Is my child doing okay in school? Are they happy? Are they healthy? Do I give them everything they need? Well conscious parenting allows you to take a step back, take a moment for yourself and see the bigger picture. The chances are you’re overthinking things and you’re actually doing a fantastic job. Other styles of parenting don’t allow for this kind of reflection, but conscious parenting encourages it in order to help reduce that niggling anxiety.
Conscious parenting is important as it will have you questioning and reflecting upon everything you do and say. It allows you to identify your strengths and your weaknesses (hey, we all have them) and learn how to use both to your advantage. You’ll learn how to manage your doubts, worries, insecurities, stresses, and channel them into your parenting skills. Your child will learn so much not only from what you say but also what you do and how you treat them not as children but as fellow humans. As individuals.
And that’s the crux of conscious parenting and why it is so important: By learning how to control yourself, your actions, and your reactions, you are able to set an example to your children about how to behave. Children look up to their parents and do what they do, respect what they respect and believe what they believe. And as such every parent has a responsibility to guide their children accordingly; to teach them how to live a life full of love and respect for their fellow humans, and help them grow up into conscious adults. That’s why conscious parenting is important.
How can your child benefit from conscious parenting?
This one is a very good question, and a very important one! As we have discussed at length, yes conscious parenting is about looking inwards at yourself as a parent and being able to reflect and understand your own actions and reactions, but what about the kids? What do your children get out of conscious parenting?
The short answer: a lot! But not in the way you might think! Instead of being a parenting method based around control and domination of your child, it is a method based around setting examples and demonstrating to your child how you want them to behave.
Instead of forcing a child to do a certain thing or act a certain way it is better for everyone if you are able to focus on yourself, your language choices, your expectations and what you want the outcome of the situation to be. Not only will this keep you as a parent from going crazy but it also sets an example to the kids that THAT is the correct way to act in a situation.
So the next time your child gets angry or starts acting out then they might think back to that situation and remember how you as their parent acted. Did things work out well when we were both screaming and shouting at each other? Did it go the way I wanted when I started throwing a tantrum or was it better to try to talk through my emotions and feelings? Your kids will start to learn to think like this if you maintain your good example and keep demonstrating how you want them to behave and act.
By demonstrating self-reflection and self-appraisal your child will learn to do the same. They will learn to evaluate their choices and think about how it will affect the outcome of the situation and those around them. And it is in this way that your child will start to learn how to be a conscious child.
This may be an oversimplification but it can be likened to training a dog to do a trick: if it does the trick then you give it a treat; if it doesn’t do the trick it gets no treat. The dog soon learns that the correct way to behave will yield good (and delicious) results. Now let’s transfer this example across to you and your child: if they learn to self-regulate, reflect and evaluate then they will get a good result and more than likely get what they want; if they throw a tantrum, act out and generally misbehave then they don’t get whatever it is that they want. It is your responsibility to set those good examples and establish those correct behaviours in order to ‘train’ your children!
Setting clear boundaries and explaining why those boundaries are in place is also key for your children. By having defined boundaries laid out to them in advance of any bad behaviour means they know and understand not to cross them. Positive reinforcement is a great way of further defining the boundaries while strengthening your bond with your child. Simply hearing something like “well done, I’m really proud of you for not playing in the mud, good job!” from their parent goes a long way for a child!
But of course it is important to remember that your child is not always going to be happy! That’s an inevitable fact no matter what your parenting style is and it’s all part and parcel of having children, but at the same time your children will grow and develop through these struggles.
So as you can see, both you and your child can get so much from conscious parenting! You can learn and grow together, and help each other become better and more conscious people!
Where can you find more information about conscious parenting?
So you like the sound of conscious parenting? You like the idea of maintaining a mindful control over your thoughts, feelings and emotions while you are raising your children? You do? We can’t blame you – more and more people every day turn to this form of positive parenting. But naturally you’re going to want a little more information and some parenting tips! Well we’re here to point you in the right direction!
Firstly the internet is your friend! Just a quick search will bring up a whole host of forums that have information about every single aspect of conscious parenting. The information might be pretty spread out and anecdotal, but if you can sift through the rubbish and get to the core facts about the subject then there is a lot to be learned! (Though of course we have to remember that the information is on a forum and as such everyone will have an opinion – good and bad! Don’t be swayed by either argument and make sure you do your own rigorous research!)
If you prefer your information to be more condensed and focussed then perhaps up you should try checking out some conscious parenting books. Many authors have written about the subject, but Dr Shefali Tsabary is a leading authority on this method of parenting and has had many books published. Not only are they in depth, educational and enlightening pieces of work, but they are also entertaining and fun guides that you can learn to live by. Her knowledge is extensive and her goal is simple: to empower parents to nurture more authentic, fulfilled and self-aware children. We’d recommend checking out The Conscious parent book, or if reading’s not for you, you can listen to The Conscious Parent audiobook.
As well as authoring several books Dr Shefali also runs informative online courses where she will personally guide you through the in’s and out’s and the do’s and don’t’s of conscious parenting via the Conscious Parenting Mastery class. Any style of parenting can be a minefield, but if anyone can get you through it with the power of conscious parenting it is Dr Shefali! Speaking on the Mind Valley website she says “the absolute best thing you can do for your child is to first nurture your own inner child!”
Learning how to become a conscious parent doesn’t happen overnight, there is a lot to learn, and it’s a style that might not suit everyone…but when you put it into practice the amazing results speak for themselves! Hopefully after doing a little more research, fact finding and information trawling you will feel ready and confident to take your first steps into the world of conscious parenting!