If you noticed, mindful parenting in early childhood has gained popularity in recent years. Unlike the traditional parenting model which requires total obedience and respect to parents and elders without questions, mindful parenting in early childhood is a practice of living in the moment, being aware of what is happening, your thoughts and feelings.
The goal of mindful parenting in early childhood is to respond thoughtfully to your child’s behaviour with a non-judgemental, compassionate and accepting attitude, instead of reacting in an angry and critical manner.
According to Urie Bronfenbrenner’s theory on Ecological Systems, a child’s development in early childhood is seen as a complex system of relationships that are influenced by a variety of environmental factors, ranging from the immediate context of home and school to more general cultural norms, laws, and values. We must not only consider the child’s immediate surroundings but also the interplay between that and the larger environment. The environment is divided into 5 different systems.
5 Different Systems Explained
Being the first level of Bronfenbrenner’s theory, these elements directly affect a child in their immediate environment, such as parents, siblings, teachers, and schoolmates. Interactions in a microsystem are bi-directional, which means that while a child can be impacted by others in their surroundings, they can also alter the attitudes and behaviours of others.
The mesosystem refers to the interactions between the child’s microsystems, such as those between parents and teachers or between classmates and siblings. In the mesosystem, a person’s various microsystems interact with one another and exert influence over one another rather than operating independently.
The exosystem is a part of Urie Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems theory which was created in the 1970s. It includes additional formal and informal social structures that do not directly contain the child but have an impact on one of the microsystems in a negative way.
The macrosystem focuses on how cultural factors like socioeconomic status, wealth, poverty, and ethnicity influence a child’s development. Therefore, the culture in which they are raised may have an impact on their views and understanding of how the world works. It refers to the already established society and culture that the child is evolving in rather than specific environments.
The final level of Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems theory includes all environmental changes that take place throughout the course of a person’s lifetime which have an impact on development, such as significant life transitions and historical events. Transitions might include typical ones such as starting school, and non-typical ones, like parents divorcing or needing to move to a new home.
Importance Of Mindful Parenting In Early Childhood
Mindful parenting in early childhood is critical due to the influence of advancing technology and digitalisation on families over the decades. It poses a major impact on the child’s cognitive, academic, socio-emotional development, health and wellbeing.
When mindful parenting is in practice, it empowers parents to provide constant and loving care, building the foundation needed to support children’s ability to regulate their emotions and make decisions. The parent-child relationship plays a significant role in promoting the child’s optimal development and parents’ ability to control their emotions influences their interactions with their children.
According to a study conducted by Frontiers in Psychology, findings have discovered a link between mindful parenting during early childhood and social decision making in children. The study involved 63 pairs of mother and child from The Netherlands. Mothers completed the Interpersonal Mindfulness in Parenting Scale (IMPS) which consisted of the five dimensions of mindful parenting.
They include listening (listen and observe with attention), non judgemental acceptance (approach the situation without judging your child or your own feelings), emotional awareness (an awareness of parenting interactions from the parent to the child and back), self regulation (not letting your emotions trigger immediate reactions) as well as empathy and compassion (encourages parents to have compassion).
Additionally, mothers also completed a Sharing Task to measure children’s social decision making through a simple task – deciding how many stickers to share with a stuffed animal.
The results demonstrated that maternal mindful parenting significantly predicted the sharing behaviour and parents who are better in mindful parenting tend to exhibit prosocial behaviour in daily interactions. Thus it can be concluded that mindful parenting in early childhood contributes to parental positivity and less punitive discipline.
4 Huge Benefits Of Mindful Parenting In Early Childhood
1. Reduced Stress
Mindful parenting helps to reduce a parent’s stress levels. When challenging situations arise, a mindful parent is able to step back and evaluate them objectively without being overwhelmed by emotion.
In normal circumstances, stressful situations can cause parents to have fight-flight-freeze instantaneous reactions and raise their stress levels. Mindful parents are consciously aware. They can decide, step back, and handle issues with a calm and clear head.
2. Lesser Behaviour Issues
Stress adversely affects parenting abilities. Parents may revert to survival mode in stressful times. Eg. When a child has a tantrum in the grocery store. Their increasing rejection, control, reactivity, and lack of warmth tend to worsen the child’s behavioural issues. Research has shown that when parents’ stress levels are reduced, a child’s aggressive tendencies are also significantly reduced.
3. Improved Emotion Regulation In Parent And Child
Meditation can help parents to self-regulate their emotions. When they step back from their negative thoughts, it can stop the spiral of unfavourable and recurring preoccupations before they develop into full-scale conflicts or depression episodes.
The ability of a parent to control their own emotions has a big impact on their children because imitation plays a major role in the child’s growing years. Hence displaying self-control sets a positive example for their young children.
4. More Positive Connection
Parents who practise mindfulness are able to understand their children’s emotions and empathise with them. Parents can also emotionally connect better with their children and help them feel understood when they are attuned to their feelings and accept them without judgement.
When children misbehave, mindful parents can respond in accordance with their parenting beliefs by pausing and evaluating the issue rather than reacting based on punishment or dismissal. Children raised in such nurturing environments tend to be more prosocial and have lesser behavioural issues.
Tots & Teddies
Tots & Teddies is an immersive-bilingual, full-day infant care and preschool centre located in Singapore’s Central Business District (CBD). We cater to discerning parents who want the best quality care for their infants from 2 months through to children under 7 years old. We understand the importance of nurturing children the right way as it affects the overall holistic development of the children.
We aim to ensure that every child feels important, heard, understood and protected. We do this by not just providing the best quality teacher-child ratios in Singapore, but by also limiting our class sizes.
As an early childhood education provider who believes in mindful parenting, this approach allows for intimate care and quality shared experiences between children and educators. Less noise, overstimulation and confusion also ensures that children start to develop positive identities in what is widely regarded as a child’s most important age.
Our mission is to provide a safe, clean and inviting environment, a well balanced P1-ready curriculum and warm, empathetic teachers for children under our care. That way, our children can flourish to be well-rounded, inquisitive, caring and confident individuals. We also partner closely and personally with our parents.
As part of our nurturing environment, we bring the children out on regular excursions (Gardens by the Bay, National Gallery and others) to explore nature and their surroundings to improve their gross motor skills as well as to bring class topics into real life situations like grocery shopping. This helps in their cognitive, academic and socio-emotional development.
Additionally, we update parents with daily logs in a mobile app where parents can download easily and check their child’s progress. Besides providing daily reports with the child’s activities and photos every single day, we also provide the weekly summary of what we will teach each week and termly progress reports against a development checklist that is personalised for each child.
In summary, mindful parenting is essential to ensure the overall positive and holistic development of a child. When parents choose to respond thoughtfully to a child’s behaviour without judgement, it helps the child to feel accepted and understood. As a result, the child grows to be a confident and flourishing individual with self control.
At the same time, it is also recommended to choose an early childhood provider that embodies mindful parenting as your child will be in school for most of the day. So the child is able to experience the same nurturing environment inside and outside the classroom, which consistency brings about their improved behaviour and better decision making as well as self control.