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After Practicing Mindfulness Instead Of Yelling At Your Kids, These 5 Incredible Things Happen

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After Practicing Mindfulness Instead Of Yelling At Your Kids, These 5 Incredible Things Happen

If you are a parent, it is inevitable that you have–at some point in time–yelled at your child. It’s actually quite common for parents to respond to a child’s unwanted behavior negatively. If your parents were yellers–the likelihood of you inheriting the yelling trait is tripled.

Most of us are aware that screaming at kids is bad and most of us would love to stop–but kids can really push and push and PUSH until you find yourself hollering at the top of your lungs in frustration. You then feel guilty, drained and a bit frustrated once the moment has passed. Successful parenting does not involve yelling.

So how do we stop?

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Successful parenting is mindful parenting

In order to change behavior and create new habits you must first raise your level of awareness–or more simply–become more mindful, observant and introspective.

The first thing you must understand and truly internalize is that yelling at kids is ineffective at best and abusive at worst. In fact, this topic has been researched exhaustively by child psychologists. A study published in 2003 in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that in families where there are over 25 yelling incidents in a 12 month period, children are more at risk of developing lowered self-esteem, an increase in aggression toward others and higher rates of depression.

Researchers did note that the kind of yelling categorized as verbal or emotional abuse is more than simply shouting at your kids. It’s a constant form of “psychological aggression,” and often escalates to insults or words of humiliation. Considering how often parents can lose their temper—for some of us, it’s way more than twice a month—these findings are a good reason to cut out the bad communication habits and begin to practice being actively mindful of your responses to inappropriate behavior.

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It is important to understand that successful parenting focuses on providing long term solutions versuses short term fixes. Yelling only yields short term results. Here are a few additional reasons you may want to rethink yelling:

  • Yelling teaches your child that you are only serious when you raise your voice.
  • Yelling escalates the child and incites the fight (they begin yelling as well and a shouting match ensues) or flight (they withdraw) response in your child.
  • Yelling at your child teaches them to yell when they are angry or frustrated

Results of practicing mindful parenting

1. You become more patient and gain self control

Unless your child is in immediate peril–he or she is attempting to stick scissors in a light socket–before you say a word, pause and breathe. Breathe in deeply through your nose and force the breath out through your mouth. This one simple act gives you a chance to regain control of yourself, it slows your breathing and heart rate down and it bathes your brain in oxygen allowing you to think more clearly. Become mindful–in that moment–of what you should say and how you should approach the situation. Remember–long term solutions not a short term fix.

2. You will learn how to address the inappropriate behavior and not your child

Attack the behavior, not the child. This is mindfulness at it’s finest. This step involves explaining to the child why the exhibited behavior is inappropriate and what they should do instead. Addressing the behavior can involve a punishment but it doesn’t always have to. Successful parenting takes into account the individual child’s needs, personality and temperament. This will help you be more in tune with who your child is on a deeper level and lead to a deeper connection.

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3. You teach your child how they should act through your reaction

Before you respond (during your pausing and breathing phase) ask yourself, is this how I want my child to respond to others? Children do what you do more than they do what you say. They will emulate your actions–good and bad. Mindfulness reminds you that you are the ultimate model for appropriate behavior.

4. You will be able to establish clear rules and clear consequences for your child

This will go along way in curbing all of the screaming and frustration. By setting clear rules with consequences you help curb the “knee jerk” reaction of overreacting and over-punishing. When you and your child know the rules and the associated consequences the expectations are clear and your frustration level will be lowered. This is however, a very active process. Rules have to be set and reset periodically. Another way to greatly increase the effectiveness of rule and consequence enforcement is writing them down and posting them in your child’s space.

5. Mindfulness allows you to regroup and recommit when you do flip out

At the end of the day–when all is said and done–you will still lose your cool occasionally. It is going to happen. Mindfulness allows you to accept it, regroup and recommit to the process. If an apology is in order, apologize. Mindfulness allows you to take some time to reflect and figure out why it happened and what, if anything, you need to adjust to decrease the likelihood of it reoccurring.

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In the end, successful parenting begins with being more mindful and aware as a parent. It teaches you to become more calm and helps you to behave better. And when you behave better, your kids will too.

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Denise Hill

Denise shares about psychology and communication tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

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Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

In today’s chaotic world, having family time isn’t always easy. It can get pretty hard to coordinate schedules, especially if the family is large. Life demands that we work, attend school, nurture friendships, hobbies, etc. All of those things are extremely time-consuming and important—but so is spending time with your family.

Why is family time so important? Because we all need love and support, and a good, strong family can provide that regularly. For children, spending time with their family helps shape them into good, responsible adults, improve their mental health, and develop strong core values.

There are many positive effects of spending time with your family. My family and I, for instance (and this includes grandchildren as well), meet every Tuesday night for dinner and games. My older son and I take turns cooking. This gives all of us a chance to try some new recipes. After dinner, we play games. And without fail, they inspire competitiveness and laughter. As family night has evolved, the grandkids have invited their friends over as well, creating the need for more chairs but also expanding our circle of fun.

Aside from the obvious fun and games, there are other reasons why spending time with your family is paramount. In this article, I will provide you with multiple reasons why spending time with your family regularly is a win-win. And then, I will lay out some ways on how to do it.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important

Here are six reasons why it’s important to spend time with your family.

1. Provides the Opportunity to Bond

When you spend time together as a family—talking about your day, your highs, your lows—it fosters communication. As parents, it gives you the chance to listen to your children, to hear them out, to learn about what’s going on in their world. It also provides you with the opportunity to use life situations as teaching moments.

Before our Tuesday night dinner/game nights, my family used to see each other pretty regularly but not consistently, especially the grandkids. Our family night changed all that. Now, it’s guaranteed that the grandchildren, along with some of their friends, will be there. Not only do I get to find out what’s been happening in their lives, but they also get to know us better. It’s creating memories they can treasure forever, as well as modeling the Get-Together tradition for when they eventually have families of their own.

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“Spending time partaking in everyday family leisure activities has been associated with greater emotional bonding within families.”[1]

2. Teaches the Value of Family

Taking the time to be with your family lets your children know they are valued—that spending time together is a priority. I know that in today’s world, both parents are busy as both usually working. What better way to let your children know they are loved than by carving out time each week to spend with them?

According to Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., “words like honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage are core to centuries of religious, philosophical, and family beliefs. Use them and others to express and reinforce your family values. Teach children the behaviors that flow from these principles. Use quotes to ignite meaningful dinner conversations and encourage kids to talk about these values.”[2]

3. Enhances Mental Well-Being

Spending that quality time together gives your children a safe platform in which to express themselves, ask questions about things that are bothering them, or talk about their day and things they’ve learned. I know that my 9-year old granddaughter can’t wait until it’s her turn to talk about her day. She usually goes on and on and has to be stopped to give everyone else a chance to talk about their goings-on.

“Research shows the quality of family relationships is more important than their size or composition. Whoever the family is made up of, they can build strong, positive relationships that promote wellbeing and support children and young people’s mental health.”[3]

For children, having the opportunity to seek advice from parents they trust—as well as being able to have a sounding board and help with problem-solving—is priceless. In addition, being able to voice their opinions and be heard—and to feel like what they have to say matters—is an esteem-builder. All of these can have a very impactful positive effect on their well-being.

4. Helps the Child Feel Loved

How do you think a child feels knowing their parents want to spend time with them—talking, sharing experiences, playing games, listening to them? It will make them feel as though they are important, and a child that feels important is happier and more apt to thrive. Setting aside chores or work to spend time with your children demonstrates that they’re essential—that they matter. What a gift to give your child!

“If a child has your undivided attention, it signals that they are loved and important to you. This can be further nurtured by experiencing joyful activities together, as it demonstrates that you want to spend time with your children over and above all of the daily demands.”[4]

5. Creates a Safe Environment

If you regularly spend time with your children, you are also creating an atmosphere of trust. The more trust they have, the more likely they are to share with you what’s going on in their world. As they get older, you’re going to want to know. Negative influences can show up at any time, but if you’ve always been there for your child, they are more apt to come to you and ask for your advice.

Spending time together generates familiarity and feelings of being supported. When a child feels safe and comfortable, they’re more likely to open up. This is one way to get to know your child and know what’s on their minds. Are they okay? Do they need your guidance? If so, how?

6. Reduces Stress

This is significant. We all suffer from stress at one point or another in our lives. Spending time with family helps alleviate that stress. It’s an opportunity to talk things out, get feedback, and maybe brainstorm for a solution to the problem that is causing the stress.

According to Brandy Drzymkowski, “During the holidays, your closest five people probably shifts to family and friends. You may even get to see loved ones who live far away. Good news! This can actually help lower your stress levels. Studies show ‘face-to-face interaction…counteracts the body’s defensive ‘fight-or-flight’ response.’ In other words, quality time spent with loved ones is nature’s stress reliever.”[5]

So, now that you know some of the benefits, what are some ideas for making family time happen?

How to Make Family Time Happen

Here are four things you can do to make family time happen and spend more time with them.

1. Family Dinners

This, as I said above, is a wonderful way to spend time together. While you’re having dinner, you have the chance to discuss things that are going on in your lives—the ups, the downs, and everywhere in between. It’s like having a buffer against life’s challenges.

Aside from that, eating dinner together has many additional benefits. Studies have shown that for kids who eat regularly with their families, there is less risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and depression.[6]

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“Our belief in the ‘magic’ of family dinners is grounded in research on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals.” It further states, “We recommend combining food, fun and conversation at mealtimes because those three ingredients are the recipe for a warm, positive family dinner—the type of environment that makes these scientifically proven benefits possible.”[7]

According to Parenting NI, “children and adolescents who spend more time with their parents are less likely to get involved in risky behavior. According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.”[8]

As you can see, there are multiple benefits to spending time with each other routinely. You can’t go wrong with this family activity.

2.  Regular Movie Nights

This is another fun event, although, from personal experience, I have to caution that choosing a movie that everyone wants to see is not easy. So, give yourselves plenty of time so you don’t spend two hours searching for a movie, and then end up watching no movie at all because the night is practically over. Try and choose a movie before the day, if possible.

Afterward, open it up for discussion. Ask questions pertinent to the movie. What do you think of ABC? Should they have done that? Would you have done something differently? There are so many questions you can ask to spark a conversation and keep the night going.

3. Game Night

This is another occasion for great fun. If you have a competitive spirit, it makes it even more fun. There are numerous games out there—Balderdash, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Charades, to name a few—that can create fun havoc. All I can say is, on game nights, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay if you lose the game. The fun is in being together, laughing, debating, and having a good time.

In addition, “Playing board games is great for children for many reasons besides the obvious; it’s fun to play games! Age appropriate games can help children to think strategically, solve problems creatively, work on pattern recognition and build simple math skills. They also help children develop social skills such as following rules, taking turns, and graceful winning or losing. Additionally, a family game night provides an opportunity for children to bond with siblings, parents and family members as well as peers. It can promote tradition building and establish a fun routine.”[9]

So, go find your family a game and start having fun!

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4. Sharing a Hobby

If you and one of your kids like to do the same things, do it more often. For example, my oldest son and his teenage son go on long bike rides together on the weekends. Not only do they get to exercise, but they also get to talk and look at beautiful sceneries. They’ve also incorporated cooking into their routine. They plan the meal, shop, and prepare—activities that bring them closer together.

Sharing a hobby is a great way to bring family members together. It bonds people in amazing ways. According to Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW, “One of the easiest and most important ways to build a child’s self-esteem is to spend time with them doing something not only that they enjoy but something that you also enjoy. There is a special magic that happens between a parent and a child when they share a mutually beloved activity. It sends the message to the child that their parents are having fun, true, honest, real fun, with them.”[10]

Final Thoughts

Spending time with the family is an investment. It is an investment in the happiness, well-being, and security of that system. It can also serve as a way to break out of the daily rut and the constant worldly demands, while at the same time, building a strong family unit.

Even though it isn’t always easy to find the time, finding the time is key to staying close and to providing and receiving love and support. There is no greater gift than the gift of time. That’s what we all seem to be missing nowadays. So, in giving that gift consistently, everyone feels loved and appreciated.

The family that takes the time to interact regularly is typically happy. They know they are part of a tribe, and that’s essential in today’s chaotic world. To know that there are people whom you can count on—people who will have your back in times of need—is invaluable.

Now, go and plan something plan with your family, if you haven’t already.

Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Pittsburgh Parent: Spending Time Together—Benefits of Family Time
[2] Roots of Action: Integrity: How Families Teach and Live Their Values
[3] Beyond Blue: Healthy Families
[4] Esperance Anglican Community School: The importance of family time
[5] Brandy Drzymkowski: Spending Time With Loved Ones Reduces Stress
[6] Harvard Graduate School of Education: Harvard EdCast: The Benefit of Family Mealtime
[7] The Family Dinner Project: BENEFITS OF FAMILY DINNERS
[8] Parenting NI: The Importance of Spending Time Together
[9] WNY Children: Family Game Night- The Benefits of Game Play
[10] Child Therapy Boston: The Benefits of Sharing a Hobby With Your Child

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