Mindfulness for Parents of Infants

Mindful Parent

By Jasmin Mundi and Emily Shergill

Practicing Mindfulness During the Early Months of Parenthood: A guide for parents of children from Birth-18 months

Babies go through drastic changes from the time they are born to 18 months of age and it is no surprise they rely heavily on their parents for guidance, comfort, care, security, nutrition, and shelter. The unique transition to parenthood also comes with significant changes as parents go through the ups and downs during the early months, all while trying to maintain relationships and self-identity. Although the experience of parenthood is rewarding and brings joy to many parents, there are also a multitude of challenges that parents face during these early months, which can cause feelings of stress. Therefore, it is important that parents practice self-care and mindfulness to maintain their own health and well-being.

Mindful new Parents

The Transformative Process of the Child and Parent

The time from your baby’s birth to 18 months of age goes by quickly. In this short span, your child will grow significantly in size, develop their own personality, grow teeth, begin to sit up on their own, walk, begin to play with toys, and even begin to talk (Perry, Hockenberry, Lowdermilk, & Wilson, 2013). Growth spurts are particularly challenging as they are often met with sleepless nights and above all, feelings of frustration or helplessness by many parents. Some parents may consider themselves lucky as their child may learn to eventually sleep throughout the night as he or she grows, while other parents face difficulties keeping their child asleep at night. All these changes that occur during the first 18 months of life, along with increased responsibility can also change the dynamic of the relationship between many parents. What is important to know during this time is that every child is different and the most important thing you can do as a parent is practice self-care so you can be the best parent you can be.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness refers to the ability to pay attention to one’s internal and external thoughts and experiences that currently exist in the present, which allow one to become more aware of their mental state (Edenfield & Saeed, 2012). Mindfulness also allows one to be aware of his or her surroundings, emotions, and thoughts, and how these affect his or her body; it is the process of choosing one thing and paying close attention to it (Healthwise Staff, 2017). There are many ways parents can incorporate self-care into their daily routine. One of the most effective ways of doing so is through practicing simple mindfulness. Let’s face it, parents don’t have a lot of time, but that is okay, because setting aside 10-15 minutes a day is all you need to practice mindfulness. There are many different types of mindfulness exercises that are effective for parents of 0-18-month-old children.

Mindful parent

Why Practice Mindfulness?

During the first 18 months of life, children require a significant amount of care and attention and it is easy to lose touch with one’s own body and emotions in the process of caring for someone else. Mindfulness exercises can help parents identify their external and internal stressors and assist them to overcome and resolve these stressors (Fargo, 2018). Mindful exercises have also been shown to help reduce anxiety and increase concentration. Although anytime is an appropriate time to practice mindfulness exercises, they are best practiced when parents are in a relaxed state so that they are effective when unexpected or stressful situations arise.

Mindful parent

Tips for Getting Started: Simple Mindfulness Techniques

The first mindfulness technique for parents to consider, especially as a parent of a baby or toddler, is to pay attention to how you sound and appear to your child when providing care (Fargo, 2018). Imagine how you would want your child to perceive you, especially during stressful times, for example, when the child is not sleeping well, crying more often than not, or not eating well. Another way parents can practice mindfulness with their child, is by taking the child’s point of view or perception to help consider why the child may be crying or not feeding well which will increase awareness of not only their own feelings, but also the child’s.

Mindful parent

Another helpful way parents can practice self-care is to involve their full body into mindfulness exercises which can help overcome emotional and physical stress. For example, focus on your entire body, as you do a full body scan, recognize and touch the parts of your body that feel tense (Healthwise Staff, 2017). As you touch your body, focus on relieving the tension by consciously relaxing your muscles and breathing in and out slowly. After focusing on your body parts, move onto your brain and focus on all of the thoughts that are running through your brain. Pay attention to the content of your thoughts, without being judgmental, and take note of the types of thoughts you have (Healthwise Staff, 2017). It is okay for your mind to dwell on certain things, become distracted, or begin to think about other things that you need to do for the day while performing different exercises, as this is part of practicing mindfulness. When it comes to mindfulness, practice doesn’t always make perfect, but it certainly goes a long way to help stay in the present and avoid becoming distracted by other stressors

Mindful parent

Another practical mindfulness technique that can easily be incorporated into any parent’s routine, is done by using nature and the senses such as taste, smell, touch, and vision to encourage and practice mindfulness. For example, going for a walk, taking deep breaths, being mindful of the smell outside, feeling the temperature, looking at the colour of the trees and flowers, and the colour of the sky can help distract one from having constant worrying or stressful thoughts (Healthwise Staff, 2017). For those days where leaving the house seems like an impossible task, using mindfulness techniques at home can be just as helpful. For example, when eating a meal, pay attention to the colour and smell of the food, notice the way the meal looks, eat slowly and be mindful, and recognize the different types of flavors that you can taste. When feeding or resting while the baby takes a nap, take time to sit on a comfortable chair, look outside the window, pay attention to the sounds around you, and focus on deep breathing. Lastly, at the end of each day, look back and reflect on positive things that occurred in that day. For example, focus on positive interactions that you had with your child and partner, even if it was a challenging day (Marlowe, 2013). Encouraging your mind to focus on more positive memories and practice reflecting on experiences that brought joy helps you to reconnect and remember these pleasant experiences, rather than having negative memories and therefore, negative emotions.

Mindful Parents

Practicing mindfulness exercises acts as a self-help treatment and helps one recognize, reflect, and resolve stressful situations. It is also important to realize that it is not always easy to be mindful due to multiple stressors, however, it is important to recognize stress levels and use self-help techniques, such as mindfulness exercises, to promote better mental health, and provide better care for not only yourself but also your child (Fargo, 2018).

Peaceful infant

Try Our 2 Minute Mindfulness Practice Video

Video created by 
Jasmin Mundi and Emily Shergill
2 mins, November 2018 in Adobe Spark Video

Mindful New Parent Resources

Mindful Families

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Mindful Families is a blog created by Sara Marlowe, a mother, author and clinical social worker. Mindful Families is a valuable resource that provides thoughtful tips on the topic of mindful parenting and raising mindful children. This website contains many articles, as well as, techniques on how parents can incorporate mindfulness into everyday life in a way that enriches the well-being of the whole family unit. In addition to the online resources offered through mindfulfamilies.ca, Sara Marlowe also offers personal counselling services and mindfulness workshops that the whole family can enjoy.

URL: http://www.mindfulfamilies.ca


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Mindful is an online community based website that offers a great starting place for parents who wish to learn more about the basics of mindfulness. This website is designed for any person who is interested in learning about the basic principles of mindfulness and offers strong evidence-based research on the benefits of mindfulness practice. This easy-to-use website also provides its users with a variety of free meditation and mindfulness practices that can be easily integrated into daily life. What makes Mindful truly unique, it that the website specifically relates mindfulness to a variety of health topics, making it easy to understand how mindfulness can affect the body, mind and spirit.

URL: https://www.mindful.org

Mindful Exercises

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Mindful Exercises is a perfect website for parents to use when they may not be able to get out of the house during those earlier months of parenting. This practical website offers free guided meditations through video and audio resources that are short enough to incorporate into almost any part of the day. For those who are in need of some extra mindfulness inspiration, this website offers free mindfulness and meditation quotes which can help parents gain perspective and carry a new sense of optimism during the most stressful of times.

URL: https://mindfulnessexercises.com

HealthLink BC

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HealthLink BC is a free resource that provides evidence-based health and wellness information and is created by the Provincial Government of British Columbia that touches on a variety of topics from caring for children to self-care. This resource is an all-around health toolkit that any parent will be sure to benefit from in a variety of ways for years to come. For those parents who are in need of extra help or advice, this website offers a phone number (8-1-1) that parents can call for more in depth advice from health care professionals on a variety of health topics.

URL: http://www.healthlinkbc.ca

The Free Mindfulness Project

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The Mindfulness Project is an initiative started by Clinical Psychologist and mindfulness teacher, Peter Morgan after recognizing the difficulty in finding free mindfulness resources. The Mindfulness Project is a library of helpful mindfulness tools that users can access from all over the world. Not only does the Mindfulness Project offer free guided mindfulness meditation downloads, it also directs its users to a variety of user-friendly apps that could certainly be incorporated into a daily routine.

URL: http://www.freemindfulness.org/

Insight Timer

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Insight Timer is a free meditation app that is available in a variety of languages that can be downloaded onto any iPhone or Android. This app brings together over five million mediators worldwide into one online community. There are also over 2500 meditation instructors publishing tools to helps its users become calm, mindful, compassionate people through meditation and mindfulness practices. In addition to the guided meditations provided, there are also published audio discussions that cover topics such as self-compassion and stress.

URL: https://insighttimer.com

Baby Center

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Baby Center is a website specifically designed with parents of infants and toddlers in mind. Baby Center touches on a variety of parenting topics applicable to parents of children 0-18 months, such as breastfeeding, sleep, growth and development, as well as, helpful strategies for parents on how to practice self-care during the early stages of parenthood. Many articles published on Baby Center are evidence-based and written by Canadian physicians and other professionals. Baby Center also provides a message board for parents to communicate and provide support to one another.

URL: https://www.babycenter.com

Healthy Families BC

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Healthy Families BC is an initiative started by the provincial government of British Columbia to promote the health and well-being of BC families throughout their lifespan. The overall aim of the Healthy Families initiative is to help British Columbians take initiative over their own health and well-being by offering a variety of health promoting resources. Part of the Healthy Families BC initiative is to promote self-care of new parents. There are a variety of resources on the Healthy Family BC website to help parents as they go through the motions of parenthood, including ways of practicing self-care.

URL: https://www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca

Moments a Day

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Moments a Day is a blog designed to empower families to make steps towards personal growth and development. According to the site, personal growth is something that should be continued throughout one’s life course, and helps people become better parents. Moments a Day offers a variety of articles such as how to use mindfulness to manage motherhood, how to connect with your child, and such, as a way to help parents in their quest for personal growth within the context of family.

URL: http://www.momentsaday.com

Guided Meditation for New Moms (Video)

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This video provides parents with a short relaxation meditation exercise that is easy to do at home. The author of the video (Candace) is also an international yoga instructor and renowned blogger who offers a variety of other free meditation videos that are short enough to keep even the busiest parent engaged.

URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtHA7dj-Lzo


Edenfield, T. M., & Saeed, S. A. (2012). An update on mindfulness meditation as a self help treatment for anxiety and depression. Psychology research and behavior management, 5, 131-41.

Fargo, S. (2018). Mindfulness Exercises for Parents. Retrieved from

Healthwise Staff. (2017). Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Retrieved from

Marlowe, S. (2013). Mindfulness Practices for Parents. Retrieved form

Perry, S., Hockenberry, M., Lowdermilk, D., & Wilson, D. (2013). Maternal Child Nursing Care in Canada. (1st ed.). Ontario, Canada: Elsevier.

Mindfulness for Parents of Toddlers

Mindful Parents of Toddlers

By April Fanstone and Porsche Campbell

Mindfulness for parents of Toddlers

Parenting is a full-time job, and a new parent becomes consumed by the responsibilities created by constant feeding, diaper changes, bonding, and cuddling (on top of cooking, cleaning and maintaining relationships). Mothers often grieve the loss of their former selves as they dive further into motherhood (Fraga, 2014). Parenting is “simply putting one foot in front of the other and taking one step at a time” (Sears, 2018). Sometimes it is hard enough to just finish the tasks of the day without really being engaged in what you are doing. Parents are sleep deprived, mentally drained, and can feel irritable or emotional many times a day. Mindfulness is a way to stay grounded while everything else around a new mother and baby are transforming and changing (Fraga, 2018). Pregnancy and the postpartum period are optimal times to start practicing mindfulness (Sears, 2018). Mindfulness is paying attention to the here and now without distraction, worrying or overthinking (Smith, 2018). Mindfulness refers to paying attention on purpose to the present while analysing your senses (Fraga, 2014). Going through the motions just to finish the tasks is like living “with your mouth closed, nose plugged up, ears covered, and eyes constantly on the clock.” (Smith, 2018). Mindfulness helps a person tune into their senses and get the most out of the situation. Mindfulness is good for our mental health and relationships and allows us to enjoy life rather than just exist through it.

Mindful with Toddlers

Mindful Breastfeeding

You can choose to be mindful at any time, it just takes practice to give our full attention in the moment or pull our attention back when our mind wanders. (Sears, 2018). Breastfeeding is an excellent time for a mother to not only bond with her baby but practice mindful thinking. The mother can focus on her breathing as she can feel the breathing and suckling of the baby (Winston, 2010). Sears (2018) suggests being mindful while breastfeeding without distracting yourself with technology or wandering thoughts. The mother should try and clear her mind and focus on her senses: how her nipple feels as the baby feeds, the sounds of suckling, the smell of breast milk and the sight of the baby happily feeding. It is easy for the mind to wander or think of the million tasks that the mother needs to complete by the end of the day. Winston (2010) states that the occasional pinching from the baby brings her back to reality when she spaces out. It takes no extra time to be mindful just extra effort (Smith, 2018). It may not happen right away but can always be practiced. When the mind wanders, bring it back to the present and engage in your present activity. This will also cause a deeper connection between the mother and baby as the mother is fully engaged with the baby.

Mindful Routines

Mindful bath time

Babies are constantly exploring everything around them using all their senses instinctively, as they begin to form impressions about everything (Babyganics, 2016). This is a very crucial time for infants, so getting into good routines can make all the difference later (Smith, 2018). Babyganics (2016) suggests that to support their “innate sense of curiosity” parents can practice mindfulness with their babies, while loving and supporting them along the way. Mindfulness allows the baby to observe and witness his/her thoughts (Neiman, 2015). Children can learn about sensations, and how information comes to us through the body and mind through breathing and movement (Neiman, 2015). It is important to supply young people with ways to stay present in their bodies in the moment (Neiman, 2015). Being present and mindful comes naturally to babies as they are exposed to new places, items, and sensations every day. Every experience is shaping the baby’s life, and stimulating multiple senses enhances the baby’s learning (Smith, 2018). The baby’s brain is rapidly developing in the early stages of his/her life; by age three 85% of the baby’s brain is developed (Smith, 2018). Smith (2018) suggests using a baby’s bath time to practice mindfulness as it is a “multi-sensory experience”. In the bath, the baby learns about his/her environment, the people around them and about their senses, like touch or massage (Smith, 2018). Babies splash around and tune into their senses without thinking about it. The parents can make the bath fun by using bubbles and providing toys for the baby to touch and move around (Babyganics, 2016). At the same time, the parents can again be mindful and engaged in the moment. The parents can ask themselves: What do I see? What do I feel? What do I smell? What do I hear? What do I taste? (Smith, 2018). The parent will hear the baby laughing or cooing, see the baby in the tub having fun, smell baby shampoo and bubbles, and likely feel happy to see the baby enjoying him/herself.

Outdoor Mindfulness

Outdoor Mindfulness

Another time a parent can practice mindfulness for themselves and their infant is when walking around outside. Before leaving the house, the parent can introduce the baby to the world and outside environment by opening the curtains and pointing to the sun, rain, snow or wind and invite the baby to touch the window panes (Babyganics, 2016). Then the baby can feel the temperature while outside. While pushing the baby in the stroller, the mother can leave all her worries or responsibilities behind and focus on the fresh air, weather, feeling of the sun on her skin or cold on her lips, how her body feels while walking etc. When the baby is sleeping/quiet, the mother can tap into her consciousness and be aware of how her body feels and everything around her (Winston, 2010). She can then allow her baby to get out and explore when it is safe. The baby will be introduced to new places, which will be exciting for him/her (Babyganics, 2016). The mother will be present and engaged as she sees her baby’s eyes light up by being stimulated. Outdoor play protects the baby from stress and anxiety and strengthens their immune systems. So even if it is chilly out, bundle your baby up nice and warm, and allow him/her to run around and explore, and get to know the beautiful world that exists.

Moment by Moment Mindfulness

Moment by Moment Mindfulness

A place that promotes a lot of mindful thinking is the kitchen. It is normal for parents to be afraid of their child in the kitchen due to the many dangers, or not want the baby making a mess. However, when the baby is involved in food preparation and exposed to many flavors and textures, they not only will grow up to be healthier eaters but also not as picky (Babyganics, 2016). Exposing the child early on can allow him and her to make sense out of what is around them. For example, allowing the baby to lick the skin of an avocado will introduce the baby to its texture (Babyganics, 2016). The parent can give the baby different safe things to touch, smell, taste and see. There are many items and foods the baby may have not been exposed to yet, so it would be exposing him/her while again stimulating multiple senses. The parent can also be mindful when changing the baby’s diapers. Of course, the smell and sight may be overpowering, but this allows the parent to recognize if they are truly present or disengaged from the situation (Winston, 2010). Every baby deserves to have their parent’s full attention. And while it is not always intentional, the mind wanders and prevents us from fully experiencing moments in life. Even something as simple as going to the grocery store can be a perfect place to practice mindfulness. While it is mundane for the parent, it is still new and exciting for the baby. Take your time and allow the baby to look around and take things in, and touch and feel objects along the way (Babyganics, 2016).

Bonding Mindfully

Bonding is the close emotional tie that develops between parents and their little ones (Sears, 2018). It is important for the mother to be mindful of how she is feeling, which ever emotion that may be (Sears, 2018). If the thoughts are negative; feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, Sears (2018) suggest taking a deep breath and replacing them with positive, loving thoughts. Communication and learning are influenced by the constant loving and caring words and touch from the parents (Smith, 2018). Physical touch and massage create the baby’s first emotional bonds (Smith, 2018). Infants who experience routine touch and massage (compared to those who didn’t) were 50% more likely to make eye contact and three times more likely to have a positive expression (Smith, 2018). Therefore, holding the baby closely, caressing its back, being mindful and positive not only creates an emotional bond with the baby, but positively influences the baby’s thoughts, sensations and demeanor. Sears (2018) offers some positive words, that can be said out loud as a mantra. The mother can repeat these four lines to the baby while breastfeeding, changing a diaper, in the bath, at naptime, on a walk or basically anywhere and everywhere:

“May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you be safe.
May you feel loved.”

“May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you be safe. 
May you feel loved.”

View Our Mindfulness Video

Video created by 
April Fanstone and Porsche Campbell
1 min, November 2018 in Visme

Mindful Parent Resources

BC Association of Family Resource Programs

This non-profit organization supports development of healthy diverse families who have children between the ages of prenatal to six years old. The goal of FRP-BC is to provide families with the support necessary to help raise healthy children from prenatal to age six. This resource allows parents and their toddler to attend programs within the community at specific family drop-in centers.

URL: http://www.frpbc.ca

BC Council for Families (BCCF)

A registered non-profit, charitable organization with the goal of supporting professionals, the community and family strengthening. BCCF has been around for over 40 years developing and delivering resources that support families by education and training professionals provide wide. BCCF’s mission is to support family services and families by providing knowledge within a community setting

URL: https://www.bccf.ca

StrongStart Early Learning

This free drop-in program available to parents and caregivers with children ages 0 -5 puts an emphasis of learning through a variety of ways such as, language, positive social interaction and play. The learning environment for toddlers is rich, interactive and of high quality for optimal learning and development. The program is targeted at early learning development for children 0 -5, which is shared with the parents. Parents are encouraged to be involved during activities, assist with story telling, playing games and providing children with healthy snacks. StrongStart Centres are offered in many neighbourhoods and local Elementary schools – there are nineteen in total that operate at different times each day in the Lower Mainland of BC.

URL: https://www.vsb.bc.ca

Child Care Resource & Referral (CCRR)

Child Care Resource & Referral provides families with community referrals, reputable resources and support for the development of children at various stages of life. CCRR programs range with regards to service and provide information and support on topics such as, child care information & referrals, workshops and training for children, drop-in programs for family along with information about child care benefits. CCRR works with the Ministry of Children and Family Development to further the strength of the family, child development and the transition to parenthood

URL: http://www.ccrr.bc.ca

Zero to Three – Early Connections Last a Lifetime

The main goal of Zero to Three is to help ensure all babies and toddlers are provided with a strong start in life. The vision is for society to be knowledgeable and supportive of all infants and toddlers in reaching full growth and development potential. Zero to Three highlights the first three years of life and marks an infant and toddler’s foundation for health and well-being. Therefore, supportive measures to assist those caring for these infants and toddlers, such as parents or guardians is necessary to maximize the long-term impacts for a bright healthy future. This organization works with many centers, projects and initiative to support optimal growth and development. Working with family and community connections is a critical component to optimize infants and toddlers well-being and development

URL: https://www.zerotothree.org

Kid’s Health: Breastfeeding

This website provides information on how often to breastfeed, the length of time to spend breastfeeding and how to know if it’s effective. It provides information on what to expect diaper-wise and gives practical suggestions such as when to burp the baby. By providing videos, the site not only explains this information, but shows it which can be easier to learn, especially for visual learners

URL: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/breastfeed-often.html

Bonding with Your Newborn

This website is all about bonding with your child. Not only does if explain seven wonderful ways a mother can bond wit her child, but also explains how the father can bond with the child. Bonding is the close emotional tie that develops between parents and the baby at birth and continues to develop during the neonatal period and infancy. A father’s nurturing response may be less automatic and slower than a mother’s, but he can form a strong bond attachment. Breastfeeding, cuddling, using skin-to-skin contact and direct eye contact and continuously talking to the infant are a few ways the mother can begin to bond with the baby

URL: http://www.attachmentparenting.org/support/articles/bonding

Infant Mental Health

This website addresses the importance of “early childhood mental health” from ages zero to five. Listed are risk factors for children to develop mental health challenges, as well as parent education and how to respond to the cues. Developing a good attachment and bond is crucial in making the child feel secure and loved and allow them to form trusting relationships.

URL: https://keltymentalhealth.ca/infant-mental-health

What is a congenital disorder?

This website covers common congenital disorders including cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, spina bifida, cleft lip, Down syndrome and Fragile X syndrome. It addresses how these disorders can be tested for around ten to fifteen weeks after conception by using amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS). Things a mother can do to prevent congenital disorders include avoiding alcohol, smoking and drugs, controlling diabetes, avoiding exposure to environmental chemical, being vaccinated and ingesting folic acid in her healthy diet

URL: https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/what-is-a-congenital-disorder

Information on Diseases & Conditions for Parents with Infants & Toddler (Ages 0-3)

This website covers many common diseases and conditions for this age range. Each condition has a link to a new page with signs and symptoms, complications, how the disease is transmitted, how to prevent it and treat it, including a kid-friendly illustrated fact sheet. This can be very helpful for parents as they can refer to this website if they suspect something is happening with their child and can compare the side effects or presentation with the listed information given.

URL: https://www.cdc.gov/parents/infants/diseases_conditions.html


Babyganics (November 2, 2016). These 7 Everyday Moments Are Packed With Lessons On Mindfulness. Retrieved December 3, 2018 from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-27173/these-7-everyday-moments-are-packed-with-lessons-on-mindfulness.html

BC Council for Families (n.d). About. Retrieved November 25, 2018, from https://www.bccf.ca/bccf/about/

BC Foundation of Family Resource Programs. (n.d). About Us. Retrieved November 25, 2018, from http://www.frpbc.ca/about_us/

Ben-Joseph, E. P. (February 2015). Breastfeeding FAQs: How much and how often. Retrieved December 2, 2018 from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/breastfeed-often.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (October 31, 2018). Information on Diseases & Conditions for Infants & Toddlers (Ages 0-3). Retrieved December 2, 2018 from https://www.cdc.gov/parents/infants/diseases_conditions.html

Child Care Resources & Referral (n.d). CCRR. Retrieved November 25, 2018, from http://www.ccrr.bc.ca/index-1.html

Fraga, J. (November 24, 2014). Motherhood Mindset: Three Ways to Practice Mindfulness With Your Baby. Retrieved December 3, 2018 from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/motherhood-mindset-three-ways-to-practice-mindfulness-with-your-baby_b_5816650

Garrison Institute. (2017). Infographic: 10 Steps to Mindfulness Meditation. Retrieved November 18, 2018, from https://www.garrisoninstitute.org/blog/10-steps-to-mindfulness-meditation/

Kelty Mental Health. (n.d.). Infant Mental Health. Retrieved December 2, 2018 from https://keltymentalhealth.ca/infant-mental-health

Neiman, B. (2015). Mindfulness and Yoga Skills for Children and Adolescents: 115 Activities for Trauma, Self Regulation, Special Needs and Anxiety. United States of America: PESI Publishing & Media.

Pregnancy birth & baby (July 2017). What is a congenital disorder? Retrieved December 2, 2018 from https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/what-is-a-congenital-disorder

Sears, W. (2018). Bonding with Your Newborn. Retrieved December 2, 2018 from http://www.attachmentparenting.org/support/articles/bonding

Smith, C. L. (2018). How to Practice Mindfulness with a Baby. Retrieved December 3, 2018 from http://www.momentsaday.com/how-to-practice-mindfulness-with-a-baby/

Vancouver School Board (2018). StrongStart. Retrieved November 25, 2018, from https://www.vsb.bc.ca/Student_Learning/Early-Learners/StrongStart/Pages/default.aspx

Winston, D. (July 20, 2010). Mindfulness with Baby: Yes, it’s possible! Retrieved December 3, 2018 from https://www.lionsroar.com/mindfulness-with-baby-yes-its-possible/

Zero to Three (n.d). Our Mission and Vision. Retrieved November 25, 2018, from https://www.zerotothree.org/about/our-mission-and-vision

Mindfulness for Parents of Preschoolers

Mindful Parents

By Megan Durrant and Sarah Hillsdon

Mindfulness has been gaining traction as a way of improving individual well-being, from health to happiness and resilience (Suttie, 2016). Mindfulness can be defined as the awareness that emerges through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding experience moment by moment (Duncan, Coatsworth & Greenberg, 2009). Parenting can be a very challenging task and one that takes a lot of commitment and responsibility. Being mindful as a parent is of utmost importance and can help reduce the stressors that accompany parenting (Meppelink, Bruin, Wanders-Mulder, Vennik, & Bögels, 2016). When parents become stressed that stress becomes contagious; children know when their parents are tense and overwhelmed (Garey, 2018). Data shows that the greatest source of childhood and adolescent stress is not school work, extracurricular activities, or peer pressure, but parental stress. That being said, being a good parent also means learning to manage your own stress and mindfulness activities are a great way to facilitate this.

Mindful Parents of Preschoolers

Mindful parenting has been described as a fundamental parenting skill or practice and it has been proposed that fostering everyday mindfulness in the context of parenting and parent training is one avenue for improving the effectiveness of parenting interventions (Duncan et al., 2009). Understanding your preschooler’s development and filling your toolbox with positive parenting skills will go a long way in resolving conflicts with your young child. As children grow into early childhood, their world will begin to open up as they become more independent and begin to focus more on adults both in and outside of the family (Perry, Hockenberry, Lowdermilk, & Wilson, 2017).

Mindful Parenting Experience

Incorporating mindful awareness into parenting interactions can allow parents to stop and fundamentally shift their awareness in order to view their present-moment parenting experience as well as attend to their child’s needs, while exercising self-regulation and wise choice in their actions (Duncan et al., 2009). It can also help that parents know that many different factors such as temperament, brain development, physical and intellectual abilities, and skill acquisition underlie much of a child’s behavior in these early years. Even the most delightful child can misbehave, and this can be frustrating for parents to deal with. Duncan et al.’s (2009) model of mindful parenting suggests that parents who can remain aware and accepting of their child’s needs through using mindfulness practices can create a family context that allows for more enduring satisfaction and enjoyment in the parent–child relationship.

Mindful Parent

When parents bring the practices of mindful parenting to parent–child interactions, they can cultivate an enhanced capacity for parenting calmly, with greater consistency, and in greater accordance with their goals and values, while engendering a warm and nurturing affective tenor in the parent–child relationship (Duncan et al., 2009). Challenging moments with young children can cause parents to snap or lose their temper and this is a reminder of how mindfulness can be such a valuable tool in parenting. When it comes to parenting mindfully, a lot of the work is about learning to make peace with our imperfections. Instead of beating yourself up, if you are able to make peace with your imperfections and begin to regulate your emotional state, you can be calmer and more present for your kids and cultivate some self-compassion (Garey, 2018).

Mindful Parent

It is easy to allow worry to take you away from the present. Duncan et al. (2009) suggest parents bring a present-moment awareness to their parenting that includes listening with full attention, bringing emotional awareness and nonjudgmental acceptance to their parenting interactions, and practicing self-regulation and compassion in their parenting relationships. Not imagining the worst helps parents to be more effective at dealing with today. Lechner (2018) describes worrying as being similar to paying interest on a loan that you haven’t been approved for.

Mindfulness and the Breath

One technique to help stay grounded in the present moment is to practice deep breathing (Lechner, 2018). Three rounds of slow inhalation and exhalation can calm the fight or flight response and will help you to feel in control of your emotions rather than letting your emotions and worry control you (Lechner, 2018). There’s science to show that taking a deep breath and staying calm when your children are pushing you to the edge actually causes positive changes in the brain (Garey, 2018). Research shows when you are able to recognize chaos in a non-anxious or fearful way, but just name it, people can actually turn the volume down on the amygdala, which is the fear circuit of the brain, and bring more activity to the prefrontal cortex, so we can be more aware of what’s happening right now in the present (Garey, 2018).

Start the Day Off Mindfully

A mindful family works together as a team and as a parent, you are not controlling the outcome, but you are guiding your team (Lechner, 2018). Another helpful resource is to make a concerted effort to slow things down. By slowing things down, stepping back and observing your own reactions, you are given a new perspective to effectively restructure your family’s routine, think of your busy morning routine rushing to get ready before school (Garey, 2018). Mindful mornings may be less efficient, but they’re more pleasurable as you will start with a happy mood instead of all this stress and rushing. Garey (2018) suggests efforts like waking up earlier and allowing your child to pick out their own clothes if this is what they insist. If you’re five minutes late to preschool it doesn’t change anything. What changes things is the frustration and stress that builds up causing everything to unravel (Garey, 2018).

Mindful Family

Research by Suttie (2016) showed that parents who reported more mindful parenting engaged in more positive and less negative parenting behavior, which was then linked to more positive behavior in their kids—meaning less anxiety, depression, and acting out. It seems there is no one right way to parent mindfully but happily, there are many right ways. Sometimes it’s as simple as practicing paying full attention to your kids, with openness and compassion, and maybe that’s enough at any moment (Garey, 2018).

Happy Family

Mindful Breathing for Parents Video

Video created by 
Megan Durrant and Sarah Hillsdon
2 mina, November 2018 in ShowMe

Mindful Parent Resources

Mindfulness Exercises

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Mindfulness Exercises is a website that has access to more than 1500 mindfulness activities and exercises that are free. The website strives to share the best evidence based mindfulness exercises with people all around the world. The website is complete with worksheets, videos, ebooks, mindfulness coaching and training as well as a 100-day mindfulness challenge.

URL: https://mindfulnessexercises.com

Child Mind

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The Child Mind Institute aims to help children and their families who are struggling with mental health and learning disorders and provides information that will empower families and communities to get help in the areas of mental health and learning disorders. One aspect of the website includes information on mindfulness techniques for parents that can take stress and anxiety out of raising kids. This website also includes information for families and educators along with their research in this area.

URL: https://childmind.org/article/mindful-parenting-2/

Mindfulness and Parenting TED talk

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This TED talk by Mary Ann Christie Burnside, a developmental psychologist is on the
topic of Mindfulness and Parenting. The speaker is a developmental psychologist who specializes in relational health and mindfulness education. She also offers programs such as group sessions in schools, workplaces and communities such as mindfulness retreats for adults and mindfulness training.

URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KfD9pElmA8

Vancouver Coastal Health Parenting Resources

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Vancouver Coastal Health has a parenting resources page which includes information
such as sleep, play, siblings and even getting ready for school. This page shows how to build healthy relationships with your preschooler – specifically how to foster strong and loving relationships and how to approach challenging behaviors. Information such as immunizations, allergies, speech and language and staying healthy are also included on this website.

URL: http://parenting.vch.ca/preschoolers/parenting-your-preschooler/

Child Development Institute

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The Child Development Institute provides information to parents related to child development, psychology, health, parenting and family activities. This website connects parents with professional experts and other useful websites. The goal of the Institute is to promote parent-child relationships by encouraging families to spend time together which in turn fosters and promotes communication including a page on mindful parenting.

URL: https://childdevelopmentinfo.com/family-building/mindful-parenting/

Healthy Families BC

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Healthy Families BC Aims to improve the health and wellbeing of British Columbians. Healthy families BC focuses on four main areas including healthy eating, healthy lifestyles, resources for parents and fostering healthy communication. There is a specific area dedicated to preschool aged children where they have many articles and information surrounding healthy eating, physical activity, safety, development and parenting.

URL: https://www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca/

The Mindful Parent

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The Mindful Parent is an organization that strives to share information with parents and caregivers on how to mindfully attend to children. They strive to demonstrate to parents and caregivers how to be physically present with their children as well how to enhance their connection with children in hopes to create better and happier parents. This website also is a platform for parents to share dialogue surrounding mindfulness and parenting experiences.

URL: http://www.themindfulparent.org/

Mindfulness for Parents – Daily Meditation #1

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This resource can be found on YouTube and is a daily breathing meditation video. This is a shortened version of the material that can be found on the mindfulness for parents online course offered by the authors. This video demonstrates meditations and guided imagery that can help parents become mindful and balanced.

URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iQA7Kpz3w4

Parenting Science

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Parenting Science was created to provide parents with evidence-based information about parenting and child development. This website was created by Gwen Dewar who received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan where she trained in behavioral ecology and Comparative Psychology. This website includes information surrounding the preschool aged child including cognitive development, learning, play, self control and sleep. It also includes information surrounding parenting including mindfulness, attachment and parenting styles.

URL: https://www.parentingscience.com/


Duncan, L. G., Coatsworth, J. D., & Greenberg, M. T. (2009). A model of mindful parenting: implications for parent-child relationships and prevention research. Clinical child and family psychology review, 12(3), 255-70.

Garey, J. (2018). Practice Mindful Parenting | Mindfulness Techniques | Child Mind Institute. [online] Child Mind Institute. Available at: https://childmind.org/article/mindful-parenting-2/ https://childmind.org/article/mindful-parenting-2/

Lechner, T. (2018). Mindful Parenting: How to Raise Kind and Conscious Kids. [online] The Chopra Center. Available at: https://chopra.com/articles/mindful-parenting-how-to-raise-kind-and-conscious-kids

Meppelink, R., Bruin, E. I., Wanders-Mulder, F. H., Vennik, C. J., & Bögels, S. M. (2016). Mindful Parenting Training in Child Psychiatric Settings: Heightened Parental Mindfulness Reduces Parents’ and Children’s Psychopathology. Mindfulness, 7(3), 680-689. doi:10.1007/s12671-016-0504-1

Perry, S., Hockenberry, M., Lowdermilk, D. & Wilson, D. (2017). Maternal Child nursing in Canada. 2nd edition. Toronto: Elsevier (Mosby).

Suttie, J. (2016). How Mindful Parenting Differs from Just Being Mindful. [online] Mindful. Available at: https://www.mindful.org/mindful-parenting-may-keep-kids-trouble/

Mindfulness for Parents of Young School-aged Children I

Mindful family

By Aliya Khan

Mindful Parenting of Children 5 to 7 Years of Age

Building a Healthier & Happier Family through Mindfulness!

Welcome to mindful parenting for you & your family! This website will provide you with information to help strengthen and foster positive relationships between you and children in your family between 5 and 7 years old. Some of you may be wondering what it means to be mindful, and that is okay! Mindfulness will help you and your child manage stress (Sheridan, 2016). It will help you and your child become more aware of the present moment, thoughts and feelings (Sheridan, 2016). Mindfulness will also help strengthen the relationship and communication between you and your child!

Mindful family

Your Child’s Growing Bodies, Minds, & Ideas!

As your child’s body grows, so will his or her needs, thoughts, and behaviours. You play a bigrole in supporting your child’s growth and development. Your support in helping build relationships with peers, boosting self-esteem, and offering words of praise, encouragement and accomplishment are critical to positive child development (Perry et al., 2017). Here is a list of some of the changes you can expect your child to experience, coupled with ways you can help ensure positive growth:

  • Between the ages of 5 to 7, children continue to gain weight and height (Perry et al., 2017). As their bodies grow, so does their dietary needs. Your child may also lose his or first baby tooth during this time as well (Perry et al., 2017)! It is important to teach your child about healthy dental care and adult teeth!
Mindful family
  • Your child is starting to learn about feelings and how to react to different situations (National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health, & First Nations Health Authority, 2013a). He or she may also begin to notice how others around them feel. You can help your child understand feelings better by asking questions such as:
    • How do you think this person feels?
    • Why do you think this person feels this way?
    • What do you think this person needs?
  • Your child is beginning to shape his or her personality (Perry et al., 2017). A loving and stable home and family environment can help shape a strong and healthy personality for your child. These interactions at home will influence the relationships that your child will form in school and community settings as well (Perry et al., 2017).
  • During the ages of 5 and 7, your child’s moral values will be a reflection of the ones you hold (Perry et al., 2017). The rules, behaviours, rewards, and discipline you practice at home will influence your child’s moral development.

These are just some of the changes your child may experience during the ages of 5 to 7 years. This web guide will help prepare you for these changes using mindfulness & communication techniques.

Ensuring Positive Family Meal Times, Dietary Habits, & Appetites!

As mentioned above, your child’s growth may lead to changes in appetite and food selection (Perry et al., 2017). He or she may become pickier with what they want to eat as well (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018). Fear not, for there are healthy ways to help your child overcome food preferences and methods for them to learn healthy meal time behaviours! It is important to remember to approach challenges such as this in a positive manner, without yelling, force, or shame. Here are some mindful tips when working through this:

Mindful Meals
  • Sometimes, children need to try foods more than once before they like it (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018). Try introducing the food on multiple occasions. Leave a space of time between when your child next tries the same food item. Let’s say your child does not like broccoli. Wait a week before getting your child to try broccoli again.
  • Set some rules for the dinner table (Weller, 2017). Some parents may let their child know that toys are not allowed at the table, food needs to stay on the plate, and everyone needs to help clean up. This will help your child understand what behaviours are appropriate during dinner time. You can help instill these behaviours by mirroring these actions as well (e.g. no cell phones at the table).
Mindful cooking
  • It is healthier to not use food as a type of reward for your child. Using food as a reward or way of showing affection can lead to your child using food as a way to cope with stress or other feelings (Gavin, 2015). Instead, you can use hugs, words of encouragement or affection, and one-on-one time to show your child you love them.
  • Involve your child in the food preparation and clean-up processes (Weller, 2017). Make sure to let them participate in age-appropriate tasks. For example, they can stir, cut soft vegetables, and serve food. By letting your child prepare the meal with you, they will know what to expect for meal prep, and they may be more open to trying new foods (Weller, 2017).
  • Let your child have some control over what they eat (Gavin, 2015). While it is important for you to buy healthy foods for your child to eat, you can give your child some choice as to what they would like from what you selected. It can also help to schedule regular meal and snack times for your child (Gavin, 2015).

Destress with Your Child: Breathing Circle Activity

We all know what stress feels like! Busy work schedules, taking the kids to lessons, paying bills; these are all things that may stress us adults out! Although your child is only 5, 6, or 7 years old, he or she experiences stress too! They may feel stress about starting school, making friends, fears, or trying a new activity (Perry et al., 2017). Since you and your child feel stress, why not destress together? By destressing with your child, you are teaching him or her a positive way to manage stress. Your child will look to you for how to react in stressful times and will learn and use these behaviours to manage his or her own stress as well (Perry et al., 2017).

Mindful Breathing

Deep breathing is a mindful exercise known to be useful in managing one’s stress (Sheridan, 2016). It helps our minds focus on the present moment, and it helps to release stress and tension that can build within us (Sheridan, 2016). For this activity, you and your child can incorporate deep breathing and mindfulness as follows:

Breathing with a teddy bear
  • Let your child pick out a teddy bear or light toy to do this activity with. You can also get a teddy bear to help your child get more excited about this activity. For children 5 years old, it may be helpful for you to make a story about this teddy bear so that they are more engaged in the activity.
  • Everyone can lie in a circle together. Have your child focus on the teddy bear while taking a deep breath in, followed by a deep breath out. If it helps your child to know how long to breathe, they can count to 3 while breathing in. They can also count to 3 when breathing out. Your child’s focus will remain on his or her breathing, as well as the rise and fall of the teddy bear. As a result, he or she will be more aware of the present moment, breathing rate, and the calmness in the situation (Sheridan, 2016). You will notice that you also experience these same emotions when participating in this activity.
  • You and your child can do this activity for a minute or two at least three times a day. Remember to talk to your child about how he or she feels before and after the activity. This helps to ensure that both you and your child are on the same page about the benefits of this activity on coping with stress. This activity can help calm your child in stressful or anxiety-provoking situations.

Try the Destress with Nature Video

Video created by Aliya Khan
2 mins, November 2018

Mindful Parenting Resources

Teaching Children Mindful Awareness And Self-Love Through Stories

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One of the ways that you can build a positive relationship with your child is by reading together. Your child may begin learning how to read between the ages of 5 to 7. Through reading, your child develops exploration skills, and expands his or her imagination and knowledge (Perry et al., 2017). Reading with your child has also proven to build a stronger relationship between you both (Hyra, 2015). In this section, discussions about age-appropriate books, as well as methods to enhance learning and inquisition during reading are discussed. For example, the use of picture books can help your child better understand a story. Asking questions and allowing questions are also two ways that learning during reading periods can be made better (Miller & Stoeckel, 2019). Cuddling with your child while reading is an excellent way to show your love and affection for your child as well (Hyra, 2015). Click the link below to explore these ideas further!

URL: https://www.yourbodythetemple.com/mindful-reading-with-children-2/

Fun Ways to keep your Child Healthy!

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With your child starting school, there is a high chance that he or she may come home with a bug! This section will discuss exciting and interactive ways that can help you teach your kids about ways to stop bugs from coming home and getting them sick (e.g. proper handwashing). Each activity keeps in mind that children in this age group learn best through their own experiences and social interaction (Perry et al., 2017). Sentences are kept short, and words are no longer than 8 letters so that your child can participate in the interactive, online games (Miller & Stoeckel, 2019). A play-based approach is taken to a lot of the activities, as this is an effective way of teaching your child and building a strong bond between you and your child (Perry et al., 2017). The simplified language ensures that your child can better understand the information shared in these education tools. Your child can play or participate in each activity with you, or with another peer.

URL: https://www.parents.com/health/hygiene/10-things-mommy-docs-do-to-keep-their-kids-healthy/

Mindful Discipline for Kids

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Children between the ages of 5 to 7 may be able to know rules specific to behaviours, words, and situations; however, they do not yet know the reasons behind such rules (Perry et al., 2017). Likewise, having a rewards and punishment system may help them to identify which behaviours are “bad” and which are “good.” Unfortunately, this system may lead kids in this age group to think that accidents or injuries they experience are a result of them being bad (Perry et al., 2017). It is important for you to talk to your child about why they are being rewarded or punished. It is also crucial to let your little one know that no one is to blame when accidents such as falling off a bike happens (Perry et al., 2017). By having honest, nonjudgmental, and open conversations with your child about discipline, you are fostering a bond of trust between you and your son or daughter (Austin & Boyd, 2015). Your child will carry this trust and shared information with them in later years of life as well (National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health & First Nations Health Authority, 2013b). Thus, this web page will provide you with tips on how you can speak to your child about accidents, rewards, and punishments. You will also learn about healthy ways you can reward and discipline your child.

URL: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/mindful_discipline_shauna_shapiro

How to Practice Self-Regulation

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Self-regulation can be defined in various ways. In the most basic sense, it involves controlling one’s behavior, emotions, and thoughts in the pursuit of long-term goals. More specifically, emotional self-regulation refers to the ability to manage disruptive emotions and impulses. In other words, to think before acting. It also reflects the ability to cheer yourself up after disappointments and to act in a way consistent with your deepest held values.

URL: https://www.verywellmind.com/how-you-can-practice-self-regulation-4163536

Self Care – why it’s the first step to Mindful Parenting

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Parenting is never an easy task. Parents might make mistakes sometimes and that’s okay! No parent is perfect. The video displayed on this page will help you learn to bask in the present moment and forgive yourself. This page will also focus on self-care as well. Parenting can be stressful in itself; couple it with finances, meal preparation, and work responsibilities, and you are looking at high levels of stress! A build-up of stress without any efforts of its relief can lead to burnout, an emotional explosion, or a perception that the usual fun stuff is now a chore (Roberts, 2017).

URL: http://www.mindfulparentinguae.net/single-post/2016/03/02/Self-Care-why-its-the-first-step-to-Mindful-Parenting


Army Medicine. (2014). Being Healthy is Beautiful. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/armymedicine/13584554804

Austin, W., & Boyd, M. (2015). Psychiatric & mental health nursing for Canadian practice (3rd Ed.). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2018). Picky Eaters and What to Do. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/InfantandToddlerNutrition/foods-and-drinks/picky-eaters.html

Gavin, M.L. (2015). Kids and Food: 10 Tips for Parents. Retrieved from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/eating-tips.html

Hyra, A. (2015). Strengthening Literacy and Father-Child Relationships through Reading [PDF Document]. Retrieved from National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse Website: https://www.fatherhood.gov/sites/default/files/webinar/slides/nrfc_webinar_slides_july_2015_final_508c.pdf

Josealbafotos. (2014). Girl Family Path. Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/en/girl-family-path-child-mother-1077334/

Miller, M. & Stoeckel, P. (2019). Client education: Theory and Practice (3rd Ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health & First Nations Health Authority. (2013a). Family Connections. West Vancouver: Author.

National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health & First Nations Health Authority. (2013b). A Child Becomes Strong: Journeying Through Each Stage of the Life Cycle. West Vancouver: Author.

Perry, S. E., Hockenberry, M. J., Lowdermilk, D. L., Wilson, D., Keenan-Lindsay, L., & Sams, C. A. (2017). Maternal child nursing care in Canada (2nd Ed.). Toronto, ON: Elsevier Canada.

Praneshm. (2014). Teddy Bear. Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/en/teddy-bear-toy-cute-childhood-1562420/

Raising Children (Australia) Network Limited. (2017). Parent technology use: being a role model. Retrieved from https://raisingchildren.net.au/grown-ups/family-life/media-technology/parent-technology-use

Roberts, L. (2017, January 24). Why self-care is an important part of parenting, and how to make time for it. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/on-parenting/in-defense-of-a-parents-day-off/2017/01/23/270ffafc-d8f2-11e6-b8b2-cb5164beba6b_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.e2be3f92c0cd

Rosario, S. (2015). Parents and their kids cook healthy and tasty meals. Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Parents_and_their_kids_cook_healthy_and_tasty_meals_150321-A-ZT122-110.jpg

Rossi, S. (2007). Breathe. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/shawnzlea/866110617

Sheridan, C.B. (2016). The mindful nurse: using the power of mindfulness and compassion to help you thrive in your work. Lexington, KY: Rivertime Press.

Skeeze. (2015). Family Eating at the Table. Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/en/family-eating-at-the-table-dining-619142/

Weller, S. (2017). 7 Tips to Make Mealtimes Less Stressful. Retrieved from https://blog.cincinnatichildrens.org/healthy-living/child-development-and-behavior/7-tips-to-make-mealtimes-less-stressful/

Mindfulness for Parents of Young School-aged Children II

Mindful Family

by Cherrie Lo


Mindful father

In Canada, children enter elementary school at the age 5 or 6, where they may start to learn independence and gain responsibilities (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2015). During this time, some children may find friendship more important than relationships with their parents, and spend more time on social activities (Stanford Children’s Health, n.d.). Social experiences from outside the family may change the family dynamic, as well as the parent-child relationship. Through practicing mindfulness, parents of young, school-aged children can learn to be “present” in their parenting – giving their full attention to their children, and recognizing both challenging and rewarding moments (Marlowe, n.d.). Mindfulness is defined as “the ability to be fully present and attentive in the moment” (Sheridan, 2016, p. 29). Mindfulness is not just a spiritual tradition, it is scientifically proven to reduce stress, burnout, and anxiety. In this blog, a couple of mindfulness exercises are described for parents to try and experiment with.

Mindful parent

Exercise 1: Daily Mindfulness

While parents may find young school-aged children spending less time with them, there are different mindfulness exercises which allow parents and children to spend time together and bring awareness to the present moment. One mindfulness exercise is “being present with your child” (Marlowe, n.d.). This requires parents to choose a daily interaction with their child and be fully mindful during the entire interaction. For young school-aged children, daily interactions can include walking to school, playing table games, playing oral spelling games and preparing simple meals (Perry et al., 2017). It is important for parents to focus less on other thoughts such as work and chores, and fully participate and be mindful during the daily interaction (Marlowe, n.d.). If the parents’ thoughts start to wander, they should try to let those thoughts be, then reconnect to the present again.

Mindful with children

Here are a few questions parents can reflect on in order to recognize the importance of being mindful in daily interaction with their children (Marlowe, n.d.):

  1. How do the daily interactions with your child differ when you are being mindful? For example, do you enjoy the walking your child to school more?
  2. What do you tend to think about when you lose focus while trying to be mindful during daily interactions with your child? What are some ways you can keep from being distracted?
  3. How does being mindful during the daily interaction benefit your relationship with your child?
  4. Could you list at least one way to become more mindful during the daily interaction with your child?

Repetitive interactions like walking to school may become a daily routine or task for parents. However, these experiences compose an important part of their relationship with their children. Parents should practice being present with their children to “experience these little moments as precious moments” (Marlowe, n.d.).

Exercise 2: Mindful of the Good Times

Mindful father

As young children gain independence, they may start to reject the parents’ ideas or companionship (Perry et al., 2017). For example, children at 6 years old may start to have strong food preferences and refuse certain food items, and children at the age of 7 may spend more time with peers instead of with family. Some parents may experience rejections from their children and feel hurt.

One mindfulness exercise is “reflecting on positive moments with our children” (Marlowe, n.d.). Instead of thinking about the moments where they were rejected by their children, parents can focus on the happy and positive experiences with the children. For example, the joyful conversation while walking the children to school and while preparing meals, or some funny moments while playing table games and oral spelling games with the children. Parents of young school-aged children can take five minutes and reflect at the end of each day (Marlowe, n.d.). For parents who have been through a rough day, they can try setting an alarm before bedtime reminding themselves to spend five to ten minutes on thinking about a joyful moment or two with their children. If parents have trouble thinking of a positive moment, they could think of things that they appreciate about their children instead,

Exercise 3: Mindful Yoga

Taking care of a young school-aged child, such as meal prepping and studying with the child is time consuming and hard work for parents. Parents can practice yoga to bring a peace of mind to themselves at the end of the day, or to provide a morning burst of energy at the beginning of the day. Yoga is a mindfulness practice to help bring awareness into the present by focusing on the bodily sensations (Woodyard, 2011.). There are different types of yoga such as hatha, vinyasa, and yin, and each involves different movements and dynamics. I particularly like the smoothness of vinyasa yoga, also called vinyasa flow, where yoga poses are connected to each other like dancing. Vinyasa yoga is a moving meditation that does not only benefit mental health, but can also improve physical health (Cespedes, 2018). Some studies have found that vinyasa yoga can improve sleep, reduce stress, strengthen muscles and reduce excess weight.

Mindful Yoga

Vinyasa yoga often starts with breathing regulation, such as Ujjayi Pranayama, an ocean sounding breathing through the nose which is demonstrated in the video below. The following is an example of a vinyasa flow which consists of three different yoga poses (Pizer, 2018): the Plank, Cobra, and Downward Facing Dog.

Plank Pose

Begin this routine by assuming the Plank Pose.

Plank Yoga Pose

Cobra Pose

From the plank pose, lower your knees and chest to the ground to achieve the cobra pose.

Cobra pose
Cobra pose

Downward Facing Dog

From the cobra pose, use the strength of your back to lift your body off the ground to achieve the Downward Facing Dog pose. Repeat step one to three for a vinyasa flow.

Downward Facing Do

These poses should be synchronized with deep, steady breathing. However, parents who are beginners at yoga may find it difficult to do so. Instead, they could start the regulated breathing whenever they find losing the breathing pattern.

Mindfulness Technique Video

Check out the mindfulness technique video on yoga breath regulation:

Video created by Cherrie Lo
2 mins, November 2018


Mindful family

The three mindfulness exercises allow parents of young school-aged children to be “present” during parenting moments. The first two exercises, “being present with your child” and “reflecting on positive moments with our children” improve parent-children bonding as well. A common advantage of these exercises is that they do not require any special location or venues, and can be practiced anywhere and at anytime. Moreover, parents can practice the first two exercises while carrying out their daily tasks with their children, which does not take any extra time out of an already full schedule. Before or after a busy day of work and after taking care of the children, parents can take 10 minutes to practice the third mindfulness exercise – yoga – or do the routine with them. Just a 10-minute session of meditation is found to be associated with lowered blood pressure and daily heart rate, and “reduced heart rate can be a sign of reduced stress” (Cespedes, 2017).

Mindful Parenting Resources

Parent Support Services Society of BC

The Parent Support Services Society of BC, a provincial charitable organization, aims to promote wellbeing of both children and parents, as well as to “build support, advocacy, education, research, and resources” in their communities. One support service which can be beneficial for parents of young school-aged children is “parenting education”. This includes workshops and events that provide information to address problems in relationships, finances, child-rearing among parents. For example, there are workshops which educate parents about Registered Educations Saving Plan and when, why and how to talk to the children about sexual health.

URL: https://www.parentsupportbc.ca/

The BC Association of Family Resource Programs

The BC Association of Family Resource Programs (FRP-BC) supports healthy family development through family-centred programs. The five core service areas of FRP-BC are “family support, play-based learning, early learning and literacy, parent education and, information and referrals”. It collaborates with community-based centres to provide services and resources. For instance, FRP-BC houses the Abbotsford Family Centre – The Parenting Place, providing services such as the “Father Involvement Program” and “Young Parent Program”. These parenting-programs are usually for parents of children up to six years old.

URL: http://www.frpbc.ca/

Spirit of the Children Society

The Spirit of the Children Society is an Indigenous non-profit organization that supports and provides resources to families in Burnaby, New Westminster, and Tri-Cities. The unique cultural values and beliefs in Indigenous children and parents are considered in this organization, providing safe and respectful environment for the service users. Parents of young school-aged children can benefit from programs and services such as the “Aboriginal Family Housing Support”, “Family Strengthening Program” and “Traditional Aboriginal Parents Program (TAPP)”. For instance, TAPP applies the Medicine Wheel in teachings to encourage personal healing in parents over a course of 11 weeks. These teachings include stress management, child development, and discipline.

URL: https://www.sotcs.ca/programsservices/traditional-aboriginal-parents-program-tapp/

Smiling Mind APP

The Smiling Mind is an app developed by psychologists and educators to promote mindfulness in both parents and children. It sets daily meditation reminders for the user, and provides guided meditation and mindfulness techniques. An example of guided meditation is “body scan”, guiding the users through audio to be aware of bodily sensations, and to relieve tension. The APP features a “10 minutes a day is all you need” to see the benefits in improving mental health. Moreover, all guided meditation and mindfulness are tailored to the specific population, such as parents and children.

URL: https://www.smilingmind.com.au/smiling-mind-app

Raising Children Network

The Raising Children Network is a parenting website, supported by the Australian Government, which provides information on the growth and development of children at different stages. This specific URL from Raising Children Network focuses on children of five to six years old. It breaks down child development into different categories such as playing and learning, feelings and thinking, allowing parents to help their child to grow healthy according to the developmental stages. In addition, the website educates parents about when to be concerned about the child’s development at this age period. Throughout the webpage, there are underlined phrases that prompts readers to click on for further details. For example, parents can click on “looking after yourself” in the “parenting a school-age child” section for tips to balance personal life.

URL: https://raisingchildren.net.au/school-age/development/development-tracker/5-6-years


American Academy of Pediatrics. (2015). Parenting School-Age Children. Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/Pages/Parenting-School-Age-Children.aspx

Cespedes, A. (2017). Meditation and Heart Rate. Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/ article/249472-meditation-and-heart-rate/?ajax=1&is=1

Cespedes, A. (2018). What Are the Benefits of Vinyasa Yoga? Retrieved from https://www. livestrong.com/article/332693-what-are-the-benefits-of-vinyasa-yoga/

Marlowe, S. (n.d.). Mindful Parenting. Mindful Families. Retrieved from http://www.mindfulfamilies.ca/ index.php/mindful-families/mindful-parenting/mindful-parenting-home

Perry, S. E., Hockenberry, M. J., Lowdermilk, D. L., Wilson, D., Keenan-Lindsay, L., & Sams, C. A. (2017). Maternal Child Nursing Care in Canada (2nd ed.). Toronto, ON: Elsevier Canada.

Saoji, A. A., Raghavendra, B., & Manjunath, N. (2018). Effects of yogic breath regulation: A narrative review of scientific evidence. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. doi:10.1016/j.jaim.2017.07.008

Sheridan, C. (2016). The mindful nurse: using the power of mindfulness and compassion to help you thrive in your work (1st ed.). Lexington, KY: Rivertime Press.

Stanford Children’s Health. (n.d.). The Growing Child: School-Age (6 to 12 Years). Retrieved from https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=the-growing-child-school-age-6-to-12-years-90-P02278

Pizer, A. (2018). Introduction to Vinyasa Flow Yoga. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfit. com/introduction-to-vinyasa-flow-yoga-4143120

Woodyard, C. (2011). Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life. International journal of yoga, 4(2), 49-54.

Mindfulness for Parents of Older School-aged Children I

Mindful family

By Annie McLean

Mindful Parenting of Children Ages 8-11

Mindfulness is defined as the ability to be present in the moment. The practice of mindfulness involves paying attention to what is going on around you, as well as what is going on within you (Sheridan, 2016). Accepting your own thoughts, emotions, perceptions, and experiences as they come and go throughout your day is practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is purposeful and takes practice.


As a parent of a child aged 8-11, mindfulness probably does not come easily. You are involved in your child’s life and have a lot of responsibilities on your plate. Your child is physically active and developing his or her motor skills every day (Perry, Hockenberry, Lowdermilk & Wilson, 2017). Your child learns quickly at school, may enjoy reading and writing, and has preferences for stories and information about adventure, romance, science fiction, or fantasy. He or she knows how to understand time and dates, is able to classify objects, can do puzzles and understands that volumes of liquid are conserved, no matter which container the volume is poured into. Your child keeps you busy with being involved in household tasks, taking lessons, and is probably coming up with new ideas, games, and projects all the time.


Your child’s social skills are blossoming, and he or she may now be more self-critical than ever before (Perry et al., 2017). As a parent, you can practice mindfulness when your child is feeling poorly about him or herself and be careful not to let your own negative thoughts be verbalized, as they may come off as judgement towards your child (Sheridan, 2016). When listening to your child, accept your own thoughts and emotions as they come, and receive those thoughts, not trying to change them. You can teach your child to practice mindfulness in this scenario, and help them learn to accept their emotions, thoughts and experiences, even when they are unwanted. Together with your child, you can be present and aware of the moment, and not focused on what can be done to fix it or “move on” (Sheridan, 2016).

Mindful parenting

Mindful Presence

Mindful Presence

One exercise you can try with your child to help develop your mindfulness skills is to practice mindful presence (Sheridan, 2016). Similarly, to how you practice mindfulness when your child is feeling critical of him or herself, you can practice mindful presence in everyday activities. Choose an activity that you do with your child regularly, such as walking to school, doing homework with them, or putting them to bed (Marlowe, 2013). Focus on this experience with your child and attend to any feelings you have of being in a hurry, not forcing the feelings to go away, but realizing that they are there (Sheridan, 2016). Take a couple of deep breaths, and intentionally interact with your child (Marlowe, 2013). Picture this interaction like an opportunity for connection, instead of a routine task that is done every day. Notice when your mind wanders to other thoughts, such as tasks to get done that day, and gently bring your thoughts back to this interaction with your child (Sheridan, 2016).

Loving kindness

As your child is developing his or her identity during these years, he or she desires to be loved unconditionally, and looks to parents for affirmation (Perry et al., 2017). Your child understands rules and boundaries and wants to please his or her parent by doing the right thing. Although he or she may be spending more time with friends, and may sometimes push your boundaries, your child still yearns to be a part of your family and needs you to be a stable person in their life. By showing your child compassion, kindness and love, you can increase your own empathy for others, and promote a loving relationship between you and your child (Sheridan, 2016).

Loving-Kindness Meditation

Loving-Kindness Meditation

Loving-kindness meditation is a mindfulness practice that you can practice for yourself and for your child (Marlowe, 2013). To begin this exercise with yourself, picture your own self standing in front of you (Sheridan, 2016). Take a couple of deep breaths. Allow thoughts of well wishes to come into your mind, as if you are saying them to someone else. Tell your “self” that you wish them happiness, health, and peace, by saying or thinking these phrases: “May I be happy.” “May I be healthy.” “May I be at peace.” (Sheridan, 2016; Marlowe, 2013). You can use different phrases for different wishes that come to your mind (Sheridan, 2016). Do not worry if you find this exercise challenging but persevere and continue repeating these phrases through this exercise.

Loving-Kindness Meditation

To begin this exercise for your child, picture your child standing in front of you in a time where you felt connected to them and proud of them (Marlowe, 2013). Allow thoughts of well wishes for your child to flood your mind and think or say similar phrases to when you did this exercise for yourself: “May you be happy.” “May you be healthy.” “May you be at peace.” Accept any negative thoughts that come into your mind during this exercise and bring your thoughts back to the same loving-kindness phrases (Sheridan, 2016). You can further this exercise by picturing your child in front of you at a time when you were not as happy with them, such as when you felt disappointed, angry or sad with their behaviour (Marlowe, 2013). Repeat this process, and think or say the phrases again, picturing yourself being gentle and loving towards them, despite the conflict you may feel. You can also extend this exercise towards other people in your life that you may have conflict with, or do not know well (Sheridan, 2016). You may choose someone who serves you coffee every day, your child’s school-teacher, or a coworker. Loving-kindness meditation can be done every day to help you be gentle and kind with yourself, and help you sustain compassion for your child, especially through the stressful and challenging times.

View My Loving Kindness Meditation Video

Video created by Annie McLean
2:14 mins, November 2018
Made in Adobe Spark Video

Mindful Parent Resources

Foundation For A Mindful Society

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This website helps parents understand what mindfulness is, how to practice it daily, and provides practical mindfulness exercises that parents can try. Audio recordings are given for parents to follow to carry out mindfulness and meditation exercises at home, and other resources including apps are listed. The magazine called “Mindful” can be subscribed to through this website. Parents can also read articles pertaining to mindfulness in regard to parenting, such as at the link: https://www.mindful.org/mindful-parenting-may-keep-kids-trouble/.

URL: https://www.mindful.org/

Mindful Families

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This website provides education about mindfulness in relation to family. Parents can find helpful articles and read about other parents’ experiences using mindfulness here. Parents can search through resources, such as songs, stories and exercises to help their children learn mindfulness as well. If parents live in Toronto, they can also find workshops in their area through this website.

URL: http://www.mindfulfamilies.ca/

Mindspace Clinic

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This clinic is located in Quebec (3 locations) and focuses on mindfulness as a basis for psychotherapy. The clinic provides various therapies led by psychologists and coaches that help people learn mindfulness. They also provide workshops, programs, professional training, and group classes that promote mindfulness in everyday life. Parents can find an interesting, helpful article through this website that relates mindfulness to life as a parent at the link: http://mindspaceclinic.com/11-tips-mindful-parenting/.

URL: https://www.mindspacewellbeing.com

Child Mind Institute Inc.

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This website can help parents learn about various psychological problems and actual diagnoses that school aged children often face, such as anxiety, OCD, sensory processing disorder, depression, bipolar disorders, autism, and many more. Parents can learn about mindfulness and how it can help their children and themselves, through the “Mindfulness” area of the website, which can be found at the link: https://childmind.org/topics/concerns/mindfulness/. An article specific to parents themselves can be found at: https://childmind.org/article/mindful-parenting-2/.

URL: https://childmind.org

Parent Support Services of BC

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This website is based in BC and includes resources such as workshops and seminars (some of them are free) that parents can attend all over BC. Parents can look up their particular region and find the resources local to them at this link: https://www.parentsupportbc.ca/in-your-region/. Parents can also sign up to receive a newsletter in their email with updates and interesting information about parenting.

URL: https://www.parentsupportbc.ca/parenting-education/


Marlowe, S. (2013). Mindful practices for parents. MindfulFamilies.ca. Retrieved from http://www.mindfulfamilies.ca/index.php/mindful-families/mindful-parenting/practices-for-mindful-parenting

Perry, S., Hockenberry, M., Lowdermilk, D. & Wilson, D. (2017). Maternal Child Nursing in Canada. 2nd edition. Toronto: Elsevier (Mosby).

Sheridan, C. (2016). The Mindful Nurse: Using the Power of Mindfulness and Compassion to Help You Thrive in Your Work. Charleston, SC: Rivertime Press. ISBN: 978-0-9933245-2-9.

Mindfulness for Parents of Older School-aged Children II

Mindful Family

By Gurneet Tatla

Older School-aged Children

What is Mindfulness?


Parenting is a wonderful mix of joy, worry, laughter, stress, play, frustration, chaos and everything in between (Marlowe, 2013). Mindfulness is a technique parents can use to detach themselves from the craziness of the outside world to focus on their feelings in the present moment (Sheridan, 2016). Creating moments of complete awareness can be a challenge for parents of older school aged children, aged 8 to 11 due to their biological, psychosocial, and cognitive growth and developmental changes (Perry, Hockenberry, Lowdermilk, & Wilson, 2013). Therefore, parents must pay attention to these factors because it influences their children’s health and well-being. Even though parenting children ages 8 to 11 can be challenging, it can also be hugely rewarding because parents can watch their children grow up and guide them through new experiences. Mindful parenting isn’t about being the “perfect parent” but being present in the parenting process, with all it’s ups and downs (Marlowe, 2013). Through mindfulness techniques such as meditation, breath awareness, body scan, and many more, parents can learn to be more present in their everyday lives (Marlowe, 2013; Sheridan, 2016). It can also enhance parents’ connection with their children (Marlowe, 2013). Mindfulness is something a parent can do on their own or with their family as a bonding experience.

About Children

Parents of school aged children aged 8 to 11 will always be faced with challenges. Oftentimes, children can be the source of a challenge. That’s why it’s important to understand their growth and developmental milestones to paint a vivid picture of their general strengths and limitations, and how they are likely to understand and relate to their world. Understanding biological, psychosocial, and cognitive milestones and achievements enables parents to adjust how they care for and support children to best prepare them to become successful and fulfilled in their lives (Perry et al., 2013).

About Children

Biological Development

  • Growth in height and weight begin slowly
  • Continue to build on and improve gross motor skills; the large-scale body movement skills such as walking and running that they first learned during earlier developmental stages
  • Physical maturation of systems begins to develop
  • 10-year old’s who look physically younger do not want to be treated as though they were younger; this can be a disservice to them
  • Beginning to develop competence and self esteem
  • Prepubescence begins in later school aged childhood years (Morelli & Dombeck, 2018; Perry et al., 2013)

Biological Development

Psychosocial Development

  • Make great strides in terms of their ability to recognize emotions in themselves and others, control their own emotions, and communicate about emotions, both expressively and with language
  • They gain satisfaction from exploring their environment and from interaction with peers
  • Develop a sense of industry (sense of accomplishment)
  • Want to develop skills and participate in meaningful and socially useful work
  • Are becoming useful, contributing members of their social communities
  • Reinforcement in the form of material rewards, privileges, and recognition provides encouragement and stimulation
  • Want adults to give them skills they can work at, learn from, and try to master (Morelli & Dombeck, 2018; Perry et al., 2013)
Psychosocial Development

Cognitive Development

Cognitive Development
  • “Concrete operations-” when school-aged children from ages 8 to 11 can use thought process to experience events and actions
  • Starting to develop a relationship between things and ideas
  • Beginning to develop classification skills and can group and sort objects
  • Beginning to develop and understand relational terms and concepts
  • Older school aged children (10-11) come to understand cause-and-effect relationships and become adept at mathematics and science
  • The capacity to explore and expand their knowledge is enhanced by reading and writing (Morelli & Dombeck, 2018; Perry et al., 2013)

Being a Mindful Parent

Parenting often provides daily challenging experiences. For example, everyone is buckled in the car and ready to go to school and one child states they need to go back inside to use the washroom. After driving for 3-5 minutes, another child points out they forgot their lunch at home. At this point, the parent is running late, and their anxiety level is increasing. Although in the big picture these events are minor, they still cause frustration. Practicing mindfulness exercises will help parents live in the present moment and remain peaceful and relaxed (Sheridan, 2016). It will help reduce anxiety levels and help enhance concentration (Marlowe, 2013).

Being a Mindful Parent

Here’s a mindfulness exercise guide for parents to develop the skills needed to handle stressful situations with older school-aged children, aged 8 to 11:

  • With your busy schedules and high stress jobs, it’s easy to lose sight of your children’s experience. Try to look at the world from the point of view of your child. Try to do this everyday and let go of your own point of view for a few minutes.

  • Listen carefully by focusing without distractions such as TV, social media, and phones. Be fully engaged as you listen to the stories your child shares with you.

  • Attempt to see your child as perfect just as they are. Accept them even when it’s difficult. At the end of the day, invite yourself to reflect on a positive moment that you had with your child. Even it has been a particularly challenging day, recall a pleasant moment that you had with your child or reflect on something that you appreciated about your child.

  • Focus on what your expectations are for your child and how you communicate those expectations. Do you have their best interest in mind?

  • Take a mindful walk. While paying attention to your breathing and the way the ground feels under your feet, observe your surroundings. Listen for sounds you typically overlook such as leaves rustling or a pine cone falling from a tree. Let stressful thoughts go and focus on the sights, smells and feelings in the present moment. Although nature is relaxing, a mindful walk can occur anywhere, even a busy street or mall.

Take a mindful walk

Focus on your Breathing

Find a comfortable and stable posture either sitting or lying on your back. Allow your back to be straight but not rigid. Let your arms and hands rest in a relaxed position. Close your eyes.

Just Breathe

Bring your attention to the present moment by noticing how you’re feeling physically. Scan your body from head to toe and consciously try to let any tension slip away. Take a moment to notice your environment – any sounds you might hear in the background, what the temperature feels like in the room.

Then, bring your attention to your breathing from three vantage points:

First, notice the sensation of your breath going in and out of your nostrils or mouth.

Second, as you breath, pay attention to the rise and fall of your chest.

Third, notice the rise and fall of your belly as you breath.

Pick the vantage point that seems to be the easiest for you to focus on. Follow the breath for its full duration, from start to finish. Notice that the breath happens on its own, without any conscious effort. Some breaths may be slow, some fast, some shallow or deep. You don’t need to control the breath, you just need to notice it.

(Marlowe, 2013; Mindfulness Exercises, 2018; Sheridan, 2016)

Note: Practice the skills when you are not in a stressful moment. It may seem difficult at first but with consistency and repetition, you will become skilled (Sheridan, 2016). Eventually you will find yourself automatically engaging in these mindful behaviours. You will find your parent-child relationship improves as your response to minor stressful situations become driven less by anxiety (Marlowe, 2013).

Mindfulness as a Family

Practicing mindfulness as a family gives older school-aged children, aged 8 to 11 a safe environment to express their emotions in a non-judgmental manner. This sharing creates an opportunity for parents and the children to be accountable for their behaviors. Mindfulness shows families how they can change their behaviors individually and as a family unit (Marlowe, 2013). It also helps enhance connections with one another.

Mindfulness as a Family

Family Friendly Mindfulness Exercises

Mindful Eating

Ask everyone to spend the first few minutes silently playing with the food in their mouth, noticing the varied sensations of taste, texture and temperature. It’s normal for the mind to wander. When you’ve realized the family has stopped focusing, simply remind everyone to be mindful of their food.

Silence periods

During enforced quiet periods, everyone does their regular routine in silence. Start with 5-10 minutes and work up to an hour or more. Other types of communication such as writing, signalling, and sign language should be discouraged. You will notice that the world is more vibrant because your other senses are heightened.


Turn down the lights, have your phones turned off, and have everyone sit on the floor for a few minutes. The most common type of meditation is focusing on the breath. Children ages 8 to 11 can focus on their breathing by pretending to smell a flower while breathing in and pretending to blow a leaf while breathing out.

(Marlowe, 2013; Sheridan, 2016)


Benefits of Mindfulness

Being a parent to older school aged children can be stressful. Decades of research have shown the mental health benefits of mindfulness and meditation. Since mental health has been linked to overall health status, practicing mindfulness can aid in maintaining immune function and improving a parent’s general well-being physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually (Goldstein & Goldstein, 2016). Moreover, mindfulness can help parents reduce anxiety and depression, increase body satisfaction, improve cognition, and help the brain reduce distractions to heighten complete awareness. Whether choosing to meditate or utilizing a different mindfulness path, taking time daily to focus on mindfulness is worth it because it allows a parent to be in tune with their feelings to better react to stressful moments with their child. Furthermore, practicing mindfulness as a family can enhance a parent’s connection with their children and vice versa.

Mindful family

Try My Mindfulness Technique Video

Please click on the link below for a 2-minute YouTube demonstration on how parents and their school aged-children can practice mindfulness individually and together as a family:

Video created by Gurneet Tatla
2 mins, November 2018

Mindful Parent Resources

Mindful Changes

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Mindful Changes is a blog created by Shahin Najak, a mother, certified Yoga instructor and Reiki practitioner, and a mindfulness teacher based in Vancouver BC. This resource allows individuals to stay in touch with her workshops and programs in Vancouver and across Canada. Mindful Changes is about sharing and teaching the practice of mindfulness with adults, parents, children, adolescents, and students and teachers within the education system. Shahin Najak’s mission is to inspire individuals to learn and practice mindfulness with tools and strategies that will help individuals to become more resilient to daily stressors. This resource offers mindfulness training and tools for individuals who want to live a more meaningful life.

URL: https://www.mindful-changes.com/

Mindful Families

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Mindful Families is a blog created by Sara Marlowe, a mother, author, and clinical social worker. She incorporates mindfulness into her work with children, teenagers, adults, parents and families. This resource provides tips on mindful parenting and how to be a mindful kid. It also offers techniques and exercises on how parents and their children can incorporate mindfulness into their everyday lives individually and together as a family. Sara Marlowe also offers links to her mindfulness books, programs, workshops and meditation videos for everyone of all ages.

URL: http://www.mindfulfamilies.ca/

Mindful: Healthy Mind, Healthy Life

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Mindful: Healthy Mind, Healthy Life is an online magazine subscription that inspires and connects individuals who want to explore mindfulness to enjoy better health, more loving relationships, and a compassionate society. A new mindfulness issue is published bi-monthly and offers personal stories, evidence-based research, and practical advice. The magazine also offers insights that speak to anyone from parents looking for guidance to better connect with their children to corporate managers exploring new ways to cultivate workplace engagement and fulfillment.

URL: https://www.mindful.org/

Settle Down, Pay Attention, Say Thank You: A How-To: Kristen Race at TEDxMileHighWomen

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Dr. Kristen Race is a brain scientist who specializes in how stress affects the brain. She uses her knowledge in this Ted Talk to help individuals live more mindful and less stressful lives. In this YouTube video, Dr. Race shares simple techniques parents and the whole family can enjoy, helping them feel happier, healthier, calmer, and less stressed out.

URL: https://youtu.be/Awd0kgxcZws

The Best Meditation Apps for Parents

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Parents are always on the go, from managing their children’s daily activities, their jobs, and daily errands such as grocery shopping. Sometimes it’s challenging for parents to find the time to be mindful due to their busy schedules. The Best Meditation Apps for Parents, gives parents information on the best mindful apps to help them slow down and focus on the present moment. Parents can subscribe to apps like Headspace, Happify, Shine Text, Spire, Smiling Mind, Mind the Bump, and many more on their smartphones and tablets to practice mindfulness through motivational articles and quotes, exercises, and activities. For example, Headspace is a personalized mindfulness coach that can provide parents with daily meditation and exercises to stay mentally healthy. Happify will allow parents to select the mental health and wellbeing goals they want to focus on. Then it will give them activities they can do to help meet those goals, such as mediation and mindful walking. Spire is an invisible mindfulness and activity tracker that’s recognized in continuous- respiration sensing, real-time interventions and actional feedback. Spire can also help parents keep track of their sleep and activity. This resource will inform parents of all the possible apps they can download so they can pick the ones that best suit their needs.

URL: https://www.activekids.com/parenting-and-family/articles/the-best-meditation-apps-for-parents


Goldstein, E., & Goldstein, S. (2016). Raising the Mindful Family. Retrieved from https://www.mindful.org/raising-the-mindful-family/

Marlowe, S. (2013). Mindful Practices for Parents. Mindful Families. Retrieved from http://www.mindfulfamilies.ca/index.php/mindful-families/mindful-parenting/practices-for-mindful-parenting

Mindfulness Exercises. (2018). Mindfulness Exercises for Parents. Retrieved from https://mindfulnessexercises.com/mindfulness-exercises-for-parents/

Morelli, A. O., & Dombeck, M. (2018). Child Development Theory: Middle Childhood (8-11). Retrieved from http://www.mhsso.org/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=37673&cn=1272

Perry, S., Hockenberry, M., Lowdermilk, D., & Wilson, D. (2013). Maternal Child Nursing Care in Canada. (1st ed.). Ontario, Canada: Elsevier.

Sheridan, C. (2016). The Mindful Nurse: Using the Power of Mindfulness and Compassion to Help You Thrive in Your Work. Charleston, SC: Rivertime Press.

Mindfulness for Older School-aged Children

By Zarqa Ahmad and Athena Williamson

What is Mindfulness?


Mindfulness can be defined as, “the ability to be fully present and attentive in the moment” (Sheridan, 2016). The foundational attitudes necessary to successfully progress towards mindful mastery are a beginner’s mind, patience, non-judging, non-striving, trust, letting go and acceptance (Sheridan, 2016). A beginner’s mind will stimulate a curious and new perspective to yourself and the world around you. Patience will guide you to work through the techniques at your own pace. A non-judging attitude will allow you to calmly and openly understand personal experiences, as well as those of others, without labelling them as right or wrong, neither good or bad. A non-striving perspective will encourage you to achieve feelings that are special to you, rather than specific goals; mindfulness is about what is inside, not an external entity. By trusting yourself, you will enable your strength and wisdom to guide you along your own path to mindfulness. Letting go will help you to release troubling thoughts from the past and future, which enable your mind and body to live in the present. Accepting your experiences and seeing the situations clearly from all points of view is the first step you can take towards a positive mindful change in your sense of being.

Mindful children

Therapeutic interventions such as meditation practice; mindfulness can help individuals disengage their “auto pilot” mode in order to look more carefully at their convictions and thought patterns. The act of pushing away negative thoughts and emotions in therapies such as cognitive behavioral theory can increase distress. So, practicing mindfulness can reduce that struggle by allowing people to relax and be calm while reflecting on his/her progress in the therapy. Therapeutic interventions help form self-awareness, and help clients induce a sense of physical and mental calmness.

You can practice the following mindfulness techniques wherever and whenever you can. All it takes is a moment to reflect on your experiences to progress your mindful development, one activity at a time. Mindfulness is not a quick fix, however, with one step at a time, you will get closer to reaching your own mindful awareness.

Mindful Moments

The Three Ps and the STOP Practice exercises can help a child to respond to situations rather than react in the moment; especially when facing a stressful or confrontational experience (Sheridan, 2016).

Mindful child

The Three Ps

  1. Pause. Bring focus to your breathing and release yourself from doing mode.
  2. Be Present. Notice the sensations of your body, the thoughts of your mind and the emotions of your soul. Be accepting to your current experience.
  3. Proceed. In this moment, pay close attention to what needs your full attention, enabling your sense of being.
Mindful children

The STOP Practice

  1. Stop what you are doing.
  2. Take a deep breath and follow the air as it enters your lungs and exits your body.
  3. Observe your physical sensations, thoughts and emotions. Do you experience tension? – Focus on breathing through it.
  4. Proceed with the activity at hand when you feel a sense of calm through the exercise and find your centre. (Sheridan, 2016).

THINK ABOUT:  What did you notice as you did these exercises? What was it like to transition from doing to being and reactive to responsive?


These mindfulness techniques can establish clarity of mind and allow for rational reasoning to the thought process. They bring your mind into a state of being present in the moment instead of compulsively doing an action or activity. These techniques can help you to deescalate internal and external stress which will influence self control over your emotions and help you to find balance of body and mind. It will enable improvements to adaptive coping, which will result in a faster recovery to the goal of a neutral emotional and physical state.

Mindful Meditation

The Three-Step Breathing Space is a formal practice of meditation, which provides you with the opportunity to take a minute for yourself to breath through your feelings of being overwhelmed with the stresses of life. This exercise can be done in any setting in as little as 30 seconds, to if you have time for.

Family healthy lifestyle concept. Pregnancy Yoga and Fitness. Young happy pregnant yoga mom resting after workout with kid girl in living room. Pregnant mother and child meditating together at home

Three-Step Breathing Space

Sit tall with good posture in a chair and start taking deep breaths. Relax your shoulders down from your ears and rest your arms down by your sides; you can place your hands on your thighs.

  • Collect Your Awareness: begin to listen to and understand your body and mind. What sensations do you feel from your head to toe? What thoughts are flowing through your mind? Accept these thoughts and feelings to move forward to the next step.
  • Gather Your Attention: now draw your attention to the feelings of your abdomen as your breath in and out. Try to keep the breaths at the centre of your thoughts. If you find yourself thinking of other things, acknowledge the thoughts and transition back to your sensations of breathing.
  • Expand Your Awareness: begin to pull your attention to your whole body as you breathe. Allow any tension to release with the exhale of your breaths. Feel the gentle flow of breathing from the top of your head, down to your toes. Accept all the sensations, as part of your complete living and breathing experience.

THINK ABOUT: Once the exercise is complete, consider what you noticed and reflect on the experience that breathing through your feelings of struggle has accomplished. (Sheridan, 2016)

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Designed by Freepik

The Three-Step Breathing Space Mindful technique will enable you to collect your awareness of your body, mind and environment, gather your attention to your unique experience and expand your awareness to enhance your physical and mental health and well-being. The ability to accept what is happening in a momentous experience will reflect your ability to accomplish a mindful act. Although it seems easy to do when reading through the exercise, mindfulness takes time to develop; little by little you will get closer to accomplishing mindfulness.

Mind and Body

Practicing the body scan can help you bring attention and awareness to your body. The body scan can help you to relax and shift from “doing” mode to “being” mode while accepting and acknowledging any stresses present (Sheridan, 2016).

Mind and Body

The Body Scan

  • Start by lying down on your back on a flat surface with your palms facing up and feet slightly apart. Alternatively, you can also do this exercise sitting in a chair with your feet touching the ground.
  • Lie still and breath in and out. Notice the rhythm of your breaths. As you breath in notice the different sensations your body is feeling. As you breath out let these sensations go.
  • Pay attention to where your breathing is felt the most. Is it the stomach, chest or nostrils? Concentrate your breathing on that area for a few seconds.
  • Now feel your breath moving down across your legs to your toes. How does it feel? Are they warm? Cold? Numb? Tingly? Is there no sensation?
  • Feel your breath moving from your toes to the ankles. Sense what you’re feeling. What does it feel like?
  • Breathe in and out and notice your breath moving up your legs to your stomach. Notice how your stomach rises and falls with each breath in and each breath out. Pause here for a few seconds and think of any feelings or stresses.
  • Notice your breath moving from your stomach to your rib cage. Feel each exhale and inhale. Notice your heartbeat.
  • Notice your breath moving down your arms to your hands. Feel the sensations in your fingers.
  • Notice where your spine connects to your neck. Notice your breath moving from your lips to your eyes and now spreading around your entire body.
  • Imagine your breath giving life to your body.

THINK ABOUT: After the exercise, think about and compare how you felt before, during and after practicing the body scan. (Sheridan, 2016)

Girl meditating with mother
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Five Senses Exercise

This is a quicker exercise that the body scan and can help one be brought to the mindful state. This exercise requires only one to two minutes to complete. (Positive Psychology Program, 2017)

  • Look around.
  • Identify five things you can see. Pick an object you don’t usually notice like a shadow or a tiny rock.
  • Identify four things you can currently feel. These four things can be anything such as the warm sun hitting your skin or the softness of your sweater.
Five senses
Designed by Freepik
  • Identify three things you can hear. Be creative these things can be anything like the sound of the wind or the sound of the car on the road.
  • Identify two things you can smell. Are these normal smells? Pick a smell you typically don’t notice. Can you smell the flowers in the grass or the smell of rain?
  • What’s one thing you can taste right now? Bring your attention to the texture and describe what it tastes like.

The Mindful Jar

This interactive mindfulness technique can help one positively cope with strong emotions. (Positive Psychology Program, 2017).

Glitter jar
  • Get a clear mason jar and fill it with water.
  • Add some glitter glue to the jar.
  • Shake the jar and watch as the glitter swirls around the jar.
  • Imagine that the glitter represents your thoughts when you’re mad, sad or stressed out. The glitter’s making it hard to see through the glass. This is what happens when you’re mad or upset, it’s hard to think or see clearly
  • Now put the jar down and let it sit for a few minutes.
  • Watch as the glitter settles to the bottom of the jar.
  • Can you see through the glass now?
  • This is what happens when you pause and let your emotions be calm. You can see and think clearer (Blissful Kids, 2017).

Try Our Mindfulness Techniques Video

Video created by 
Zarqa Ahmad and Athena Williamson
6 mins, November 2018

Mindful Child Resources

Mindfulness and Meditation Videos for Kids

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The Cosmic Kids mindfulness meditation videos are a perfect way to incorporate healthy screen-time in the home and classroom settings for the body and mind. It is a popular website resource among parents, teachers, and children alike. It incorporates fun, kid-friendly yoga, mindfulness and relaxation with the host of the videos, Jaime, and can be accessed through the Cosmic Kids YouTube Channel. It is reported by parents and teachers that by using these videos, significant improvements to children’s ability to self- regulate emotions, focus their attention and empathize with others were observed.

URL: https://www.cosmickids.com/mindfulness-meditation-videos-kids/

Mindfulness for Children

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Annaka Harris, author of the children’s book, I Wonder and editor of Mindful Games, created the mindfulness for children program to support the development of concentration and self-awareness at the malleable age of 8 to 11 years of age. The program incorporates a variety of mindfulness exercises to stimulate the mind and achieve a sense of being present in the moment, such as: mindful hearing, mindful breathing, mindful seeing, and friendly wishes. Also available in this website resource are a series of interactive mindful games (activity cards), guided meditations, lessons on mindfulness and podcast interviews (ex. 10% Happier Podcast Interview).

URL: https://annakaharris.com/mindfulness-for-children/

10 Ways to Teach Mindfulness to Kids

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The website resource, the Left Brain Buddha, is a valuable resource for parents and children to incorporate mindfulness in 10 fun and simple exercises developed by Sarah Rudell Beach. The use of these mindfulness techniques will enable the child to develop emotional regulation and cognitive focus to make better decisions and calmly respond to situations rather than reacting irrationally. The website also provides a video resource to the breathing buddies mindfulness technique with Daniel Goleman and a series of external resources to various other exercises to stimulate mindfulness.

URL: https://leftbrainbuddha.com/10-ways-teach-mindfulness-to-kids/

Kids Yoga

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The yoga for kids section on the Gaia online resource provides a collection of videos designed to entice discovery, build strength and increase flexibility of the body and mind through their fun yoga sequences. It delivers a channel to tap into children’s busy lives and allow them to reconnect with themselves and the world around them. The videos encourage relaxation, positivity, creativity and silliness, as the poses guide them through interactive stories to benefit their physical, emotional and mental health and well-being.

URL: https://www.gaia.com/style/kids-yoga

3 Kid-Friendly Meditations Your Children Will Love

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This is a thoughtful article by Melissa Eisler, that outlines the benefits of meditation for children experiencing stress and anxiety, as well as those diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression. Meditation can increase attentiveness and self control as well as respect and empathy for others. The children who utilize these mindful meditation techniques will find they enable them to morph their negative thoughts and behaviors into focussed self-confidence and accepting perceptions of themselves and that of others. Also linked to this online resource is a meditation app for kids to use on mobile devices, which enables convenience for children to practice meditation on the go.

URL: https://chopra.com/articles/3-kid-friendly-meditations-your-children-will-love

NY Time’s Mindfulness for Children

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This website goes through several mindfulness practices and techniques for children and adults. It covers topics for infants, toddlers, children, older children and teenagers. There are also several links to videos and external resources which provide mindfulness games. The site also provides step by step instructions with pictures of how to perform each technique.

URL: https://www.nytimes.com/guides/well/mindfulness-for-children

Mindfulness Activities for Children and Teens

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This website goes through several different mindfulness techniques including the incorporation of games, videos and step by step instructions. They also include tips that adults can utilize to help their children with these activities. The activities range from fun interactive activities to meditation techniques. Several apps are also recommended on the site to help facilitate mindfulness in children.

URL: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/mindfulness-for-children-kids-activities/

Meditation for Kids

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This resource requires a free subscription and is available in an app format as well as the website format. It goes through five different areas children can explore. The topic areas for meditation include; calm, focus, kindness, sleep and wakeup. These exercises help children practice breathing techniques, and specific visualizations techniques.

URL: https://www.headspace.com/meditation/kids

7 Fun Ways to Teach Your Kids Mindfulness

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This website goes through seven different exercises children can practice. Parents can also go through these exercises with their children. The exercises include the bell listening exercise, breathing buddies, the squish and relax meditation, smell and tell, the art of touch, the heartbeat exercise, and heart-to-heart. The website also includes links to external pages for additional information.

URL: lhttps://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-18136/7-fun-ways-to-teach-your-kids- mindfulness.html

15 Mindfulness and Relaxation Apps for Kids with Anxiety

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This resource provides 15 apps children who experience anxiety can utilize to induce a sense of mindfulness. Descriptions and costs of each app are included as well as graphical representations. Along with each description, the ways
in which each app can benefit the child is also described. The website also goes through several children’s books that can help with mindfulness.

URL: http://parentingchaos.com/anxiety-apps-kids/


Blissful Kids (2017). Mindfulness for Kids and Teens – Calming Glitter Jar aka Mind Jar.
Retrieved from: https://blissfulkids.com/mindfulness-kids-teens-calming-glitter-jar-aka-mind-jar/

Positive Psychology Program (2017). Mindfulness activities for children and teens: 25 fun exercises for kids. Retrieved from: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/mindfulness-for-children-kids-activities/

Sheridan, C. (2016). The mindful nurse: using the power of mindfulness and compassion to help you thrive in your work. Charleston, SC: Rivertime Press. ISBN: 978-0-9933245-2-9. Paperback

Mindfulness for Parents of Younger Adolescents

Mindful family

By Lauren Greer and Tenaia Gatland

As a parent your mind is constantly running. Maybe you are out grocery shopping or at work and you will start thinking about what you have to make for dinner or worrying about something else that has been on your mind. Mindfulness is the practice of calming your mind so that you are present within that moment and can focus on your day. Taking time to take care of your mental health and practice mindfulness allows you to be present not only for yourself, but for your family (HealthLink BC, 2017). Young adolescents (12-15-year-old) are in a stage of life where they are transitioning not only from elementary school to high school but trying to create their own unique identity (Thompson & Gauntlett-Gilbert, 2008). As a parent of young adolescents, it is important to be mindful of your 12-15-year-old making these transitions in life and help teach them the tools they need to make such transitions.

Supporting your teen

Helping Your Teen deal with Stress

Life can be stressful for a young adolescent from school, friends, family, or stress they bring upon themselves. Just like any adult a child can make high expectations of themselves and cause themselves to feel stress when they feel they have failed. As a parent you can help to reduce your child’s stress through using mindfulness to identify when they are stressed. If your child feels stressed acknowledge their feelings and reassure them that you are there for them. Develop trust and be supportive so that they feel they can come to you and share what is bothering them (HealthLink BC, 2017). Try not to overschedule your child as it can add to their stress and your own between driving them to and from activities and coordinating schedules. Talk to them about what activities or extracurriculars they enjoy doing and make time for those activities. This provides them with some control over their life and can help free up your own schedule from coordinating and commuting between multiple activities (HealthLink BC, 2017).

Be Present

Being a Good Role Model

As a parent you can also provide them with good mindfulness skills and positive coping skills to help them with the stress in their lives. Be a good example for your kids. When you are angry try to keep calm and express your anger in an appropriate way. Opening up and communicating with your child builds trust so that they feel they can talk with you. Talk and teach them about the consequences to their actions. So that when faced with a decision in the future they can think about their choices and the consequences that go along with that decision (Thompson & Gauntlett-Gilbert, 2008). Encourage them and provide opportunities for rational thinking by helping to outline what is reality versus wishful thinking. Being mindful of your own stress and your young adolescents is good, but you will also need to find ways to help get rid of or deal with your stress. By dealing with your stress you can be more present with your family and help to set a good example for your children in what they can do to help deal with their own stress (HealthLink BC, 2017).


Exercise is a great way to manage stress as it allows you to channel your energy into performing a physical task. Perform an exercise you enjoy doing and encourage your child to join in if they feel like the exercise activity can act as a stress relief and a bonding experience. Let yourself and encourage your child to talk, laugh, cry, and express anger when you feel you need to (HealthLink BC, 2017). Writing and drawing are other creative ways to channel feelings and create something of meaning to you. Children will often find a creative outlet as a way to express their feelings – allowing yourself or them to express these feelings will help you both to process them (Thompson & Gauntlett-Gilbert, 2008).

Mindful movement

Another way to relieve stress and act as a bonding experience between you and your child is doing things you love to do together such as, cooking, hiking, video games, etc. Finding ways to help you or your child relax will bring you closer together and promote positive coping. Breathing exercises, meditating, massage, aromatherapy, and yoga are great ways to channel your energy and practice mindfulness (HealthLink BC, 2017).

Here are two exercises you can do with your family to promote mindfulness:

Mindful Meditation

A formal meditation often involves a person sitting very still and focusing in on a single thing, which can be difficult for children or even adults. If you are interested in meditating as a form of relaxation it can sometime take some practice. Using a guided meditation video or audio can help you get started. To practice meditation, start out with a smaller session and slowly make your meditation sessions longer to reach your meditation goal (Thompson & Gauntlett-Gilbert, 2008).

Mindful Meditation

First start by finding a relaxing position where you feel the most comfortable, either sitting or lying down. Begin to focus on your breathing and begin to slow it down with each breath you breathe in. Make note of any feelings you feel as you are focusing on your breathing and try to let them go as you continue to breath. Release any tightness that you feel in your muscles – release that tension with every breath you take in. As you continue to breathe you should feel your stress melt away. Do not give up on trying meditation if it doesn’t work after your first try. With meditation you need to find what works for you (Inner Health Studio, 2018). There are books, videos, audio, and apps available (some are listed below in our resources section) that can help you in your mindfulness journey and help you to meditate effectively.

Mindful Music

Mindful Music

This activity is a great way to practice mindfulness with your young adolescent. Put on a song and really listen to the music and feel like you are getting inside the song. Instead of just listening to the lyrics, really listen to the instruments and see if you can identify them. Listen to how loud or soft the music is or how fast or slow it is. Ask yourself how you feel as you hear the song playing, both mentally and physically. What emotions does it make you feel and where do you feel these emotions? By asking yourself these questions you are practicing being present within that moment of listening, which is the main skill in being mindful (Sedley, 2017).

Mindfulness and the Brain

This YouTube video provides a snapshot of the functioning of your brain. Developed by Dr. Dan Siegel, the “Hand Model of the Brain,” is a great way for both you and your adolescent to understand how the brain functions, and how mindfulness skills impact our brain.

3 Steps to Mindfulness

Mindfulness is integrated into a variety of therapeutic modalities from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, to Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, but can be learned by any individual in a couple of quick steps. The biggest challenge is allowing your nagging thoughts to be present without feeling like you need to get rid of them, change, or control them. Consider these quick steps to get you started:

3 Steps to Mindfulness
Click image for a larger version to view

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Try Our Mindfully Washing Dishes Video

Mindfulness can be integrated into many of your daily activities. Whether it be eating, going for a walk, or even while you’re washing dishes.

Video created by 
Lauren Greer & Tenaia Gatland
2 mins, November 2018
In Adobe Spark Video

Resources for Mindful Parents

Book – Wherever You Go There You Are

Jon Kabat-Zinn is a leader in the field of mindfulness and has done a lot of work on the integration of mindfulness to support the experience of chronic pain sufferers. He developed the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine at the University of Massachusetts. His research has demonstrated the benefits of combating chronic pain through the use of mindfulness skills. The bio for John Kabat-Zinn can be found here: https://www.umassmed.edu/cfm/about-us/people/2-meet-our-faculty/kabat-zinn-profile/

URL: https://www.amazon.ca/Wherever-You-There-Are-Mindfulness/dp/1401307787/

A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook

This workbook is developed to make the experience of mindfulness easily accessible to any individual. Through the use of a workbook and guiding CD tracks, the individual is able to work through concepts and practice mindfulness at their own pace as time allows. Great for parents of children on-the-go.

URL: https://www.amazon.ca/Mindfulness-Based-Stress-Reduction-Workbook/dp/1572247088/

Book – True Refuge

This book is a personal favourite. It touches on the difficulties that life offers. The author discusses the challenges of being a parent, a partner, and an individual, and inspires kindness for each of the roles a person has. It offers forgiveness to the individual and encourages gentleness between ourselves and our own thoughts. Dr. Tara Brach can further be explored through her website and has a number of helpful talks and guided meditations at – https://www.tarabrach.com/

URL: https://www.amazon.ca/True-Refuge-Tara-Brach/dp/0553386344/

The Mindful Way Workbook

Many of us struggle with mental health challenges at some point in our lives. Mindfulness offers us a skill to help manage stress and reduce the intensity of overwhelming emotions. This workbook is another way that the individual can guide themselves through the process of setting up a mindfulness practice.

URL: https://www.amazon.ca/Mindful-Way-Workbook-Depression-Emotional/dp/1462508146/

Insight Timer – Meditation App

This application is freely accessible on both Android and iPhone. It offers a large diversity of meditations ranging from body scans, loving-kindness meditations, and guided visualization. The best feature of this app is that it offers something for every individual, whether you are just starting out with mindfulness and meditation or are wanting to explore a deeper practice. My personal favourites include “May I Be Happy,” by Stephan Pende Wormland; meditations by Tara Brach or Andy Hobson

URL: https://insighttimer.com

Calm – Mindfulness App


This application offers sleep stories, breathing exercises, and soothing sounds to help you focus, relax, and sleep better. It is easily navigated and provides a user-friendly experience to beginning a mindfulness practice.

URL: https://www.calm.com

Headspace – Meditation App

One of the best features of this application is the accessibility it offers. This application is even available on some planes and can help the user reduce anxious experiences while flying. The application is designed to be accessible by a diverse consumer body and has inviting animations that help guide the individuals experience at any age.

URL: https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app


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This website is a one-stop-shop for everything mindfulness. One of the great offerings of this website is the information it provides on mindfulness and the brain. Not only does it offer the latest research on mindfulness, but also has sections that can help a person get started with adding mindfulness in to their lives.

URL: https://www.mindful.org/


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Zencast is a podcast offering a number of discussions on meditation and mindfulness related topics. What’s great about it is that you can listen while driving, riding the train or while exercising. As a result, it’s easily fit in to a busy schedule.

URL: http://zencast.org/

Heart Rate Monitor

By using any inexpensive heart rate monitor, you can measure your heart rate at the beginning of a mindfulness exercise and notice the change in your heart rate on completion of your exercise. You might find it helpful to identify when your heart rate is increasing or by noticing feelings of stress or anxiety and using a mindfulness skill to reduce your heart rate and promote feelings of calmness. Having a high heart rate is not always indicative of anxiety or stress but can indicate increased energy expenditure like when you’re exercising.

URL: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07L71HDM3/ref=sspa_dk_hqp_detail_aax_0?psc=1


HealthLink BC (2017). Stress Management: Helping your child with stress. Retrieved From: https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/aba5971.

HealthLink BC (2017). Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Retrieved From: https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/abl0293.

Inner Health Studio (2018). Guided Meditation Scripts. Retrieved at: https://www.innerhealthstudio.com/meditation-scripts.html.

Sedley, B. (2017). Stuff That Sucks: A Teen’s Guide to Accepting What You Can’t Change and Committing to What You Can. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

Thompson, M., & Gauntlett-Gilbert, J. (2008). Mindfulness with children and adolescents: Effective clinical application. Clinical child psychology and psychiatry, 13(3), 395-407.

Mindfulness for Young Adult Parents I

Mindful father

By Manpreet Gill

Parenting at any stage in life is difficult. Adapting to new roles and responsibilities as a parent, working, and ensuring your child (or children) are growing up in a safe and nurturing environment can be very overwhelming and stressful. For young people especially, there are several specific stressors which are unique to their generation and age demographic (Kershaw, 2015). Young parents and adults today, are raising their kids in a tough economy where in order to keep the family afloat, both parents must be in the workforce (Kershaw, 2015).

Young families

In the case of single parent households, this becomes even more difficult as multiple jobs and countless hours are required in order to make a liveable income (Kershaw, 2015). The amount of stress associated with being a young parent can be very overwhelming and can impact your physical and mental wellbeing. In one study, 52% of young millennial parents reported experiencing such high levels of stress that they could not sleep well (Ray, 2013). Long term exposure to stress can also result in the development of chronic conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes mellitus (Reiner, Niermann, Jekauc, & Woll, 2013). In order to ensure that you can effectively manage your stress levels, for you and your children, there are certain practices you can begin to adopt into your day to day routine. These practices are structured around the concept of mindfulness, which “is the act of seeing things as they truly are in the present moment” (Hyland, Lee, & Mills, 2015, p. 578).

Mindful families

In western culture, the concept of mindfulness is derived from (or closely related to) traditional Buddhist mind training methods. As exemplified through a growing body of research, mindfulness has shown to have a number of physical and psychological benefits (Hyland et al., 2015). For these reasons, the practice of mindfulness has been incorporated in many different treatment regimes for anxiety, depression, and other mental health and physical issues. Here are some examples of how you can not only embrace, but incorporate the principles of mindfulness into your life in order to reduce stress:

Practicing Yoga


Practicing yoga has shown to have positive effects in young adults and parents (Gard et al., 2012). Yoga increase mindfulness, as it helps one pay attention to the purpose and present moment in a non-judgemental way (Gard et al., 2012). Yoga is not only restrictive to body positing/poses, but it also incorporates breathing exercises and meditation as well (Gard et al., 2012). In one study, researchers designed a yoga program for young adults who were experiencing high levels of stress (Gard et al., 2012). After the yoga course, participants reported lower levels of perceived stress, higher levels of life satisfaction and self-compassion. If you cannot attend a yoga class, there are some amazing online resources available to guide you as well! There are thousands of online videos which help guide you through each pose along with the steps to effective meditation.

Mindfulness based stress reduction

Mindful parents

Mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) is a mindfulness training course which is designed to teach participants formal mindfulness practices (Khoury, Sharma, Rush, & Fournier, 2015). These practices are meant to teach people how to “observe situations and thoughts in a non-judgemental, non-reactive, and accepting manner” ” (Khoury et al., 2015). What these techniques do is challenge the existence of stressful thoughts and prevents them from having a negative impact on one’s life (Khoury et al., 2015). Practicing mindfulness in your day to day life affects the areas of the brain which are associated with how you feel, think, and pay attention (HealthLink BC, 2017). MBSR is taught through classes throughout the community, however there are also some online resources as well which provide some valuable information about how to develop and learn these stress management mindfulness techniques.

Here are some examples of how you can practice mindfulness:

Mindful Eating

When you are eating a meal, eat without any distractions in front of you such as your phone or television. Focus on the food that you have in front of you, and take slow bites enjoying the flavours of your food. Look at your food and observe the different textures and colours. (HealthLink BC, 2017).

Mindful Breathing

i. Go for a walk outside and take a moment to take a few deep breaths. Focus on your breathing, and observe the different sights, sounds, and smells around you. Feel the cold or the warmth of the weather outside. How does the temperature feel against your skin? (HealthLink BC, 2017).

Mindful Breathing

ii. Sit in a quiet spot alone where there are no distractions. Focus on your breathing and listen to the sounds around you. If there is a window, gaze outside and look at everything. Observe the clouds in the sky, the plants along the sidewalk etc. Focus on how your body feels and the different sensations you are experiencing (HealthLink BC, 2017).

Mindful Journaling

Journaling your experience in a “mindfulness journal” is also a great strategy to write down your thoughts and feelings. Completing an entry at the beginning or end of the day can help to gather your thoughts. Having this outlet available also helps to instill calmness and clarity in your routine as well.

Mindful Journaling

Mindfulness for Young Parents Video

Video created by 
Manpreet Gill
1:41 mins, November 2018
In Adobe Spark Video

Access these Online Resources

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

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This is an online resource available to anyone who is interested in learning about how to use mindfulness techniques to reduce stress. It is created by a certified MBSR instructor who has created different modules with corresponding videos to help aide in the learning process. This resource allows you to access a MBSR class anywhere, anytime, and for free.

URL:: https://palousemindfulness.com/index.html

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Locator

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If you prefer to learn MBSR techniques in person, the following website by the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society has an instructor locator tool. This tool allows you to type in your location in order to find the closest, certified mindfulness instructor to you.

URL: https://umassmed.edu/cfm/mindfulness-based-programs/mbsr-courses/find-an-mbsr-program/

The Centre for Mindfulness Studies

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The Centre for Mindfulness Studies provides a number of great free audio-guided meditations. It is a great way to start your journey of learning to be mindful and how to meditate.

URL: https://www.mindfulnessstudies.com/

Youtube Yoga Videos

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There are thousands of online videos available which outline different yoga poses. Many also have calming music accompanying them to help with meditation as well.

URL: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=yoga+mindfulness

Yoga Journal

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The following website is a great resource to learn more about yoga and its implication with improving mindfulness. A number of different poses with illustrations and instruction are included as well.

URL: https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/peace-of-mind


Gard, T., Brach, N., Hölzel, B. K., Noggle, J. J., Conboy, L. A., & Lazar, S. W. (2012). Effects of a yoga-based intervention for young adults on quality of life and perceived stress: the potential mediating roles of mindfulness and self-compassion. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 7(3), 165-175.

HealthLink BC. (2017, December 7). Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Retrieved from https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/abl0293

Hyland, P. K., Lee, R. A., & Mills, M. J. (2015). Mindfulness at work: A new approach to improving individual and organizational performance. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 8(4), 576-602.

Kershaw, P. (2015). Population Aging, Generational Equity & the Middle Class. Generation Squeeze.

Khoury, B., Sharma, M., Rush, S. E., & Fournier, C. (2015). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for healthy individuals: a meta-analysis. Journal of psychosomatic research, 78(6), 519-528.

Ray, J. A. (2013). Family Connections: Today’s young families: Successful strategies for engaging millennial parents. Childhood Education, 89(5), 332-334.

Reiner, M., Niermann, C., Jekauc, D., & Woll, A. (2013). Long-term health benefits of physical activity–a systematic review of longitudinal studies. BMC public health, 13(1), 813.