Navigating the challenges of raising a child coupled with the unique circumstances of being a foster parent comes with a rollercoaster of emotions. As well-intentioned caregivers, we may start our interactions in a calm and receptive way, but what happens when feelings escalate for both you and your child? Is it possible to stay cool when emotions run hot?
As a meditation and mindfulness coach with seven kids, I have utilized many mindfulness strategies to help me and my clients thrive and not just survive this season of life. But what exactly is mindfulness and why would it help caregivers? Mindfulness is an awareness of the present moment as it relates to how you feel physically, emotionally, and with respect to your environment and interactions.
Awareness creates a foundation for understanding when you feel stressed and upset so you can then
- Utilize a mindfulness technique like a breathing exercise to move you from a state of stress to a state of calm
- Identify your triggers so you can prevent a future emotional spiral in the future
- Come up with solutions with your child from a place of clarity and empathy
To help caregivers stay calm, present, and connected, I wrote a book, “Mindfulness Journal for Parents,” that includes a curated selection of some of my personal favorite journal prompts and mindfulness exercises. The journal encourages reflection of experiences via prompts meant to evoke self-discovery, reawaken awareness, and fuel compassionate engagement. In the book, I address the effects of stress on oneself and on relationships and challenge the reader to use awareness to respond mindfully.
Excerpt from Mindfulness Journal for Parents, by Josephine Alturi, published by Rockridge Press. Copyright © 2021 by Callisto Media, Inc. All rights reserved.
“It’s crucial to arm yourself with the knowledge and tools to be less reactive the next time you have a conflict, or your child has a meltdown. Emotions cloud judgement and stifle positive responses. Mindfulness forges the resilience and compassion that allows you to manage your anger, keep cool during disputes, and maintain healthy relationships.”
One of the journals prompts in this section is on emotional awareness:
Think about a time when you were upset with your child. Write down all of the emotions that you felt before, during, and after the event. What do you think triggered these feelings? Has this happened before? If so, how did you feel after each time?. Understanding the connection between your triggers, feelings, and anger will shift you from a heated reaction to a mindful response in the future.
This particular journal prompt challenges you to dig deep within and recognize the patterns in your responses to life. The first step in any transformation is understanding how you do things and why you do them. It is from this knowledge that you can then use mindfulness tools to change your patterns of behavior and walk the path of growth as an individual and then ultimately as a caregiver.
Josephine Atluri is an expert in meditation and mindfulness, helping thousands of people overcome adversity to find joy. Her experience creating her modern day family of seven children via in vitro fertilization, international adoption and surrogacy inspires her work as a highly sought-after infertility and parenting mindfulness coach.