Archive for February, 2013

The Power of Your Presence

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dear Parents,


In addressing how to be calm and confident when managing children, I often impress upon parents the power of their presence.  When you are mindful and present, when you have what I refer to as “pure resolve” in your understanding you are “on the job” without a wish to be elsewhere, without distraction or even a tinge of resentment, children know. Much of misbehavior, testing and provocation stems from a parent-child scenario whereby the parent is overly reactive after being detached.

So what does it mean to be present? It means you are adept at putting other thoughts and needs aside and coming to BE in the present as you manage your children. It means you are physically there….just there. It does not mean taking over, nagging, hovering or talking. In fact, your presence is powerful in its quiet calm, not in reactivity and anxiousness.

Play around with your mindfulness and see what happens. Choose a transitional time such as getting ready to go in the morning, homework time or bedtime ritual. Let go of all your other duties and responsibilities, both mentally and physically. No screens, no checking email, no multi tasking. Practice being 100% present in a resigned, peaceful manner. Be clear and calm about the expectations in your system, i.e. “it is time to get ready for bed…time for your bath and then some reading together.” Keep the communication simple and straight forward. Avoid long lectures, discussions or negotiations.

A study published recently in the Journal of Child and Family Studies provides a more extensive examination of the possible benefits of mindfulness training for children with ADHD and their parents [S. van der Ord & S. M. Bodgel (2012). The effectiveness of mindfulness training for children with ADHD and mindful parenting for their parents. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 21, 139-147]. Participants were 22 8-12 year old children diagnosed with ADHD and their parents. The study was conducted at an outpatient mental health clinic in the Netherlands.

Children and parents were randomly assigned to receive mindfulness training or to a wait-list control condition; the majority of children were already receiving treatment with stimulant medication and remained on medication during the study. Mindfulness training consisted of 8 weekly 90 minute group sessions – the child group included 4-6 children and the parent group included the parents of these children. Children and parents were given structured assignments to complete between the sessions that focused on practicing the skills they had learning in each group meeting.

Mindful Child Training

In mindful child training children are taught to “…focus and enhance their attention, awareness and self-control by doing mindfulness exercises during the training and as homework assignments.” The exercises include sensory awareness exercises, body awareness exercises, breath awareness exercises along with breathing meditation, yoga, and exercises that promote awareness of automatic responding.

You can find a nice web site on mindfulness for children developed by the Greater Good Science Center at UC-Berkley at

Mindful Parenting

Mindful parenting is “…a framework whereby parents intentionally bring moment-to-moment awareness to the parent-child relationship.” The goals of the Mindful Parenting program used in this study were to help parents learn to …

1. “be deliberately and fully present in the here and now with their child in a non-judgmental way”;
2. “take care of themselves”;
3. “accept difficulties in their child”; and,
4. “answer rather than react to difficult behavior of their child.”

Because parenting stress can contribute to over-reactivity on the part of parents, dealing effectively with stress was an important focus. Parents were also taught how to encourage their child to do meditation exercises at home and how to meditate with their child.

You can find a very informative article on ‘mindful parenting’ at