The Benefits of Mindful Parenting

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Mindful parenting is an approach that emphasizes being present and aware in your everyday interactions with your children as a way to parent with acceptance and compassion. Rooted in mindfulness techniques, the goal is to foster a more positive parent-child relationship while teaching kids the skills they need to navigate the conflicts, relationships, and social situations they’ll encounter as they grow up.

Key Factors of Mindful Parenting

As a parent, one of your main jobs is to raise children with the skills and knowledge they need to grow up and live a happy, fulfilling life. That means nurturing the behaviors that will help them thrive and correcting the ones liable to hold them back.

While there are dozens of different approaches to addressing certain behaviors or figuring out what kind of discipline and boundaries to use, mindful parenting is less about trying to get your strategy just right and more about being in the moment and honoring your child’s experience.

Behaviors, whether positive or negative, don’t happen in a vacuum. Both you and your child are feeling and reacting to a set of internal and external stimuli. Mindful parenting is about being present enough in the moment that you’re aware of the context in which these feelings and behavior are happening.

Impact of Mindful Parenting

Research shows that mindful parenting results in the following benefits:

  • Children grow up with better emotional regulation skills and better social decision-making skills.
  • They also tend to be more secure, patient, and capable of cooperation and sharing—all traits that set them up for success at work and in their personal life.
  • A positive parent-child relationship that can make parenting less stressful over time. As both the parent and child get better at emotional regulation, empathy, and compassion, it becomes possible to navigate the challenges of growing up in a more open, honest, and cooperative way.
  • Even when you and your child inevitably disagree—such as when deciding on an appropriate curfew—you’ll be able to tackle the issue as a team rather than butting heads without resolution.

Even before kids develop the skills themselves, mindfulness techniques can help prevent tense situations from escalating into full-blown conflicts. When a toddler throws a tantrum in the store, reacting with frustration or anger is liable to just make the toddler even more upset. A calm and patient response, on the other hand, can help diffuse the situation sooner.

Importance of Mindful Parenting

The key here is that parents should be practicing mindfulness for themselves as much as they do for their kids. By becoming more aware of your own emotions and learning to acknowledge them with compassion instead of judgment, you can be a better model of emotional regulation, conflict resolution, and decision-making for your child.

Being more in tune and aware of your own emotions and perspective also makes it easier to empathize or at least be aware of your child’s thoughts and feelings. In turn, by understanding the full emotional context of your child’s behavior, you can better identify the causes and come up with solutions that address all the relevant factors.

The end result is a parenting style that can develop strategies tailored to you and your child's unique circumstances while also teaching them the skills they need to understand and deal with their own emotions more constructively.

Strategies for Mindful Parenting

Mindful parenting is founded on the following five principles:

  1. Listen with full attention. This means listening fully and without distractions with the goal of accurately understanding what your child is saying.
  2. Accept yourself and your child without judgment. Recognize that everyone makes mistakes or falls short of expectations sometimes. You won’t be a perfect parent all of the time, and your child won’t be perfect all of the time. You both deserve grace and the benefit of the doubt as you try your best.
  3. Be emotionally aware of yourself and your child. In any situation, seek first to understand both your and your child’s emotional needs. Even if you ultimately disagree or believe those emotions are misplaced, don’t dismiss them. Valid or not, those are the emotions at play in this situation. Finding a constructive way forward means figuring out a way to deal with them, not ignoring them.  
  4. Self-regulate emotions and behavior. Instead of reacting right away, always pause to reflect on your emotional state and the situation. Even when the situation calls for discipline, it’s important to do so calmly and without displaying anger or frustration.
  5. Be compassionate toward yourself and your child. Be more forgiving toward yourself and your child. Again, nobody is perfect, and children need reassurance that they are still loved and accepted even when they mess up.  

Tips for Becoming a Mindful Parent

As beneficial as mindful parenting can be, it can also be hard to stick to consistently—especially for parents who grew up modeling the same reactionary or dismissive behaviors they’re now trying to avoid.  The responsibilities of parenting pile on with all of your other responsibilities, making you prone to overwhelm and stress. In that state, practicing mindfulness and patience can feel like too much effort when you’re already stretched thin.

Get Support

To avoid stress levels reaching a point that becomes difficult to regulate emotionally and parent calmly, try to avoid letting the situation get that overwhelming, if possible.

For dual-parent households, make sure you and your partner are splitting household chores and childcare responsibilities equitably.

For all parents, tap your friends and family for support when you need it. They can do some of the chores when you’ve been too busy at work or babysit your kids when you need a few hours to decompress.

Apologize With Sincerity and Honesty

You won’t always be the perfect model of calm and reason, and that’s okay. Being a role model isn’t about being perfect but about demonstrating the skills and traits children will need to navigate life as they grow up.

If you respond with anger or frustration in the heat of the moment, the simple act of acknowledging your mistake and the hurt it caused can go a long way toward healing that damage. It’s also an opportunity to model for your child the difficult skill of taking responsibility for your actions.

Ask Questions and Try Not to Interrupt

You’re not always going to agree with your child. And, because they’re kids, their logic isn’t always going to be sound. But even if they are in the wrong, let your child express their feelings and their reasoning.

Ask questions that give them a chance to provide the full context of the situation. Don’t cut them off when you feel like you’ve heard enough to understand. Let them finish. The process of explaining it to you can be helpful on its own. But, most importantly, it makes children feel heard. When it’s time for you to respond, they know you’re responding from a position of understanding because you took the time to listen.

Practice Mindful Parenting in the Good Times, Too

It’s easy to fall into a habit of focusing just on the behaviors that need to be corrected, both in yourself and in your child. This can make mindful parenting even more challenging because you start only applying the techniques to difficult situations.

Instead, make an effort to be present and aware in the good moments as well. Notice your child’s creativity when they make up stories and scenarios with their toys. Notice their intelligence when they ask a surprisingly smart question. Notice their compassion when they stop to set an upturned beetle back on its feet.

It’s just as important to reinforce the behaviors and qualities you want to see in your child as it is to help them correct the negative behaviors. By the same token, take a moment to appreciate the good qualities and accomplishments in yourself, too. You’re raising a smart, creative, compassionate kid!

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Wong K, Hicks LM, Seuntjens TG, et al. The role of mindful parenting in individual and social decision-making in children. Front Psychol. 2019;10:550. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00550

  2. Rivera CE, Coyne LW, Daigle KM, Guzick A, Reid A, Shea S. Mindfulness, parenting behavior, and children’s mental health: An investigation among diverse, low-income mothers of preschool aged children. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science. 2022;24:79-86. doi:10.1016/j.jcbs.2022.03.003

  3. Shorey S, Ng ED. The efficacy of mindful parenting interventions: A systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Nursing Studies. 2021;121:103996. doi:10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2021.103996

By Rachael Green
Rachael is a New York-based writer and freelance writer for Verywell Mind, where she leverages her decades of personal experience with and research on mental illness—particularly ADHD and depression—to help readers better understand how their mind works and how to manage their mental health.