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I don't know what to replace traditional parenting with

Just tell me how to handle this!


The page title suggests I'll tell you what to replace traditional parenting methods with. Unfortunately not! Mindful parenting isn't about what to do when such and such happens. It's about being, well, mindful! Instead of responding to children's behavior, it's about being present with children and being aware of their needs and what they're asking for. So as you're reading through the various pages, wondering why I'm not telling you how to stop a child from running in the grocery store, it's because the focus shouldn't be on stopping the child but meeting his needs and figuring out what caused the behavior. Here's a peek at a more mindful way of looking at running in the grocery store:


  • Maybe he's not ready for grocery shopping and you should do it alone as much as possible.

  • Maybe he can tolerate shorter trips.

  • He could be asked to run and get something on the list.

  • You could shop at a time when the store is less crowded.

  • You could help him see when it's okay to run, e.g., just up and down the aisle when others aren't there.

  • You can go to a place he can run either before or after the store.

What IS the problem, is that I don't know what to replace Traditional Methods with. I wanted some suggestions.


Actually people are giving you suggestions! They are showing you how the principles of mindful parenting look when put in action.


Conventional parenting focuses on what children are doing. So you're expecting answers in the vein "When children do x, then do y."


Mindful parenting looks for the why and then often the answer is "I wasn't mindful enough. I needed to be there before it got to this point."


Distraction is a good thing when they're headed in a melt down direction.


Being mindful so their needs can be met before they get to melt down is even better.


Avoiding situations that they've shown you that they aren't ready to handle yet is really really helpful to them and to you.


Tantrums aren't ordinary. They're "MY GOD WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO GET MY NEEDS MET!!!!" They are the breaking point.


Though, if a child has learned with time that their more subtle signals are useless and tantrums get attention, then tantrums can become their first line of communication. And some kids are more easily frustrated by their inability to communicate and their powerlessness that tantrums are more common.


Life is frustrating. Being mindful won't prevent kids from getting frustrated but it will be a huge step in helping them realize you're their partner in helping them learn to deal with the world. Seeing the world from kids' point of view will help you understand why they are reacting to the world as they are. Treat your kids as though they're doing the best they can with the knowledge and skills and understanding of the world they have.And often when they're at their worst, what works best is a hug.


I used to give them a time out (with explanation), then talk about what the behavior mistake was, ask for an apology (or request that they give their sister one), and then a hug & forgive & forget.


They're too young for you to expect that to work. Kids do need information but we can't depend on them understanding and then changing their behavior. So the answer is to prevent as much as you can by avoiding those situations, jumping in sooner, whisking them away to do something else. They won't be three forever! Their understanding and needs will grow and change as they get older.


Conventional parenting is not about being present with kids. It's about giving kids rules as a replacement for being there. Same can go for information. Information shouldn't be a substitute for being there and being aware. We should let kids know that cars can hurt them, which is why we steer them clear of the street. But we shouldn't then depend on kids' understanding. We need to be there. We need to be aware of our child's tendencies to run to the street when in that type of situation. We need to avoid as much as we can places where they can run into the street until they can understand.




So there you are in the middle of a store with one or more crying children. Not a good time to try to change them. Take a few deep breaths. Try to take a step back from that traditional parenting "I made them this way, now I need to fix them" attitude. Try to see things from their perspective. What do they need right now? Someone who will love them without judging them, who might be able to find something that will help, or who will just wait patiently and lovingly.


If the traditional parenting voices in your head are really, really loud, it might help to pretend you aren't their parent. Be someone who doesn't know what led to this situation and isn't worried about what will happen tomorrow; just help in the moment.


Sandra Dodd

Sometimes what they need is to leave the store, too. If the shopping isn't finished, it's not that big a deal. Maybe you can ask a checker to watch the cart for twenty minutes, and see if you can get back in that time. Maybe just a job around the store would help.


Holly used to sit in the big cart and sort the groceries and rearrange them around herself. She liked that.


Sometimes I would send Kirby (the oldest) off to find something so that he felt important and wasn't feeling crowded or kept with the little kids. Mix it up, we always figured.



Joyfully Rejoycing
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