Zen Parenting – 14 tools for more cooperation and less overwhelm in parenting

It’s when our children aren’t cooperating and we’re experiencing stress in our lives that we need to practice mindful, conscious parenting more than ever.

Yet, it’s during these overwhelming times that we lose our Zen self. 

Whatever you want to call it—being calm, centered, mindful, or zen—requires daily attention, just like anything good does.

Cathy Cassani Adams and Todd Adams, the hosts of the Zen Parenting Radio, define Zen parenting as:

“As a Zen Parent you learn to trust your instincts, focus on what is working, and find a healthy life balance. You make it a priority to take care of yourself and figure out what you want from life. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and stressed, you feel awake and aware. Instead of worrying about what can go wrong, you notice what is working.  Instead of losing yourself, you practice self discovery.”

Being a Zen Parent isn’t as lofty as it seems. It’s within all of us. Here are a few tools we can apply to be more present, shift our thinking, and become a more Zen parent. This post was inspired by many of the words from speakers at the Zen Parenting conference.

  1. Breathe. Remember to breathe, especially when we’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed. We can use our breath to bring us back to a more calm, peaceful state. Breathing brings us back to center. It helps us get present instead of reactive state.
  2. Recenter. Within us are all the answers we need. We have to pause and listen to the voice within. Trust it, it’s always there but we don’t always hear because of all the chatter about what we should be doing or what others are telling us to do.
  3. Be in your Integrity. Showing up as we are. Aligned, one self. One part of us shouldn’t be against another part of us.  When we accept our whole selves as we are, we can accept others as well.
  4. Humility. Acknowledge others. We don’t know it all. Ask for help. Trust everyone is doing the best they can in this moment with the tools they have, including our children who haven’t developed their tools as much as we may have.
  5. Self-awareness. A skill that helps us be true to our feelings and those of others. We don’t need permission to feel what we’re feeling. Don’t push it down, let feelings be the cues for what is going on. Giving our children permission to be fully themselves is one of the greatest gifts we give our children. 
  6. Lean into Joy Now. Feel it, enjoy joy right now. Not when its all into place and perfect. We have to be happy now by discovering what brings us joy and prioritizing it into our day.
  7. Empathy. Let our children know hey are being heard and what they feel is important. When children are making things hard by their mood, try to remember that if they are acting miserable, it’s how they feel inside. We need at this moment to give them love.
  8. Find the Humor. When it’s the worst….step back and try to see humor. Imagine watching it and that it is a television show. Fly slightly higher in this moment so you can look back on it positively.
  9. Honor our children. Do our inside work so we aren’t passing on unhealth that was given to us.
  10. Treat life as an adventure to be explored not a trial to endure. Rob Bell said this. Us alive is the greatest gift we can give our children. Create positive, accepting space for kids to discover who they are. Being a spectator of life is no way to live.
  11. Say yes as much as we can so saying no matters. Are we creating a space of yes or no? Live with wonder and awe. Let’s figure this out together.
  12. Our children are writing their own story. Don’t try to write it for them. Create space for our children to find their own answers. Be there for them with openness, acceptance, warmth, truth, presence and love.
  13. Treat others as the people we wish them to be.  See light in yourself and others. When we have compassion for ourselves, we can have it for others. People who are big and small.
  14. We live inside out. Our life is  formed by the attitudes and beliefs of consciousness. We must first be aware of what we’re thinking to change it. By recognizing what we are thinking, we become more present, and begin to shift our thinking to more positive, centered and calm.

These tools help us be really here and be real—to be more Zen. When we’re more Zen, our children cooperate more and parenting is more fun.

It’s not about being perfect, it’s natural for us to slip up and get into old patterns. The goal is to practice everyday, bringing awareness to our thinking, and get back to center.

The more we practice conscious, mindful being, the more natural it becomes.

Soon, our children pick up on it and this positive loving energy fills our home and spreads out to others too.

Keeping that bright wondrous light in our children’s eyes is the greatest motivation to be better, do better, and keep practicing being Zen everyday.

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