Being present – a mindful gift for your children… and you.

As we have mentioned before mindfulness is paying attention on purpose, without judgement and with curiosity (John Kabat Zinn, 2006).

For parents, this time of year can be exhausting as we break up and finalise school years, extra-curricular activities and other commitments alongside festive preparations and holiday plans. Yet it is also a time of year when we often have more time together as families.  

When parents practice mindfulness in their lives and in their parenting they are assisting children to fully experience themselves in the moment. When we are preoccupied as parents, being caught up worrying about the past or future we are no longer available to them and risk being mentally absent. Whilst children don’t need our full attention all the time, being present during connecting interactions is valuable for the parent-child relationship. Being mindful allows for purposeful intention. With intention, you can more purposefully choose your actions with your child’s emotional well being in mind. Children detect intention and thrive when there is purposeful interaction with their parents. It is within these connections with our children that they feel a deeper sense of themselves and their capacity for relating is being developed. What an amazing gift to give ourselves and our children especially at this time of year.

Throughout this holiday season, I encourage you to regularly take a moment during this time to PAUSE. This may seem counterproductive because for many of us we may feel that we are already pressed for time, but that is when our mind needs mindfulness the most. Purposefully slowing the mind down to become more present.

For a mindful minute or two, pay attention on purpose (not just give attention) to your child and your interactions with them.  

Pay attention purposefully to your moment to moment interaction with them. Observe without judgement of what you are noticing in them (and you!). Watch your mind and the thoughts it offers about what you are observing right now. Does it take you to future scenarios, replay past events? Is your focus shifting from this present moment?

Observe your child. Notice the way they move their bodies, their limbs, their facial expressions. Listen to the unique qualities of their voices. Observe it all with the level of curiosity as if you were a scientist making a discovery for the first time. If your child is approaching teen years then they may well seem alien.

As you are observing be also aware and observe what is happening inside you.  

Take a scan of yourself – your entire body… What are you noticing within you?

Remain curious and observe (this is where it can get uncomfortable). Just observe and be a witness to all that you notice (comfortable or uncomfortable).  

What thoughts, judgements, feelings, urges, emotions, body sensations are present in this moment? Is there love, frustration, exhaustion, compassion, tolerance or possibly delight? There are no rights or wrongs here. Just observing non-judgementally. Pure awareness. 

Just for a moment more, see if you can just observe with curiosity and without judgement.

That’s all it is. 

Paying attention on purpose, without judgement, with curiosity and some compassion for yourself and others.

Stay curious. 

Be Present.  

Be Connected.  

Merry Christmas!


Written by Psychologist Nyleve Semken. For more information on our Mindful Hub psychologist click here. Nyleve is available for online psychology consultations until the end of January 2019, which can be booked here.


Parenting from the Inside Out, Daniel Seigel and Mary Hartzell, 2014

Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment – and your life, John Kabat Zinn, 2006