I never used to use parenting books as a go-to when I struggled with an issue with my kids, but I’m finding that reading parenting books gives me nice reminders that I need. Mindful Discipline:A Loving Approach to Setting Limits and Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by Shauna Shapiro and Chris White (New Harbinger Publications, June 2014) also gave me physical meditations to consider doing when I feel like screaming at my kids.
Written by both a medical doctor and a psychologist, Mindful Discipline provided detailed reasons as to why we should rethink what discipline is, as well as ideas to consider when parenting. I most appreciated the emphasis on expressing love in those moments when frustration (both in a child and a parent) threatens to explode. These are things my husband has been saying for years; these reasons, concepts, and ideas are things I know I should be keeping in mind. Mindful Discipline helps me see how it is possible.The authors provide five important parts of a parent-child relationship that guide the development of mindful discipline. I love how these items are just as important for parents to recognize in themselves as they are for children to receive. These are as follows.
- Unconditional love. Even in the most frustrating of situations, it is incredibly important to express love for the child. No child should ever wonder what the initial reaction to a misbehavior will be; this is something I must always recall.
- Space. Parents need to let children learn their own lessons by trusting them in their own space to grow and change. I tend toward helicopter parenting (at least I did when Raisin was very little) and this does not help a child develop self-confidence. I must let my kids have their space.
- Mentorship. Parents have a genuine opportunity to help children learn morals and values. I really like the emphasis on parenthood as a partnership of teaching and learning. Truly, I am a new parent with each new stage of childhood my son enters. I love this emphasis that I can help mentor my kids to develop the character they need for adulthood.
- Boundaries. Although space is something kids need, a good parent also places safe boundaries for their children to keep them safe, able to cope, and able to grow farther. I have always been a boundary-happy parent; this book helped me to see how I need to choose which boundaries are most important.
- Mistakes. Yes, one of the ways parents mindfully allow their children to grow is through mistakes. Children and parents alike can only grow when mistakes happen and we learn from them. I loved this reminder that I let my kids see my own failings. If I cannot demonstrate how to cope well when I mess up, how will my children learn what appropriate behavior is when we make mistakes?
Mindful Discipline also had a strong emphasis on meditation in order to keep calm and keep perspective in mind. Although I do not personally do formal meditation practices such as they suggested in each chapter, I am a religious person, and I saw those bits as reminders of what to focus on during my prayer times.
I loved these reminders. As I’ve read this over the past two weeks, I’ve found myself reacting to my children’s outbursts more calmly, with more sincere love, and with more discerning choices as to which outbursts, limits, and space-requests I respond to. This is a good thing. I’m sure Raisin and Strawberry will appreciate it as we go forward.
This book helped me remember that maybe, as a parent, I won’t screw up my kids for good. As long as I am always keeping the love I have for them central in my relationship with them, they can develop into the special souls I know they are. And it is okay to show my own mistakes. My children need to learn how to move past their own mistakes.
Note: I read a digital review copy of this book from the publisher.