trauma

Why Caregivers Need to Practice Mindfulness

Parenting often provides daily challenging experiences. For example, everyone is buckled in the car ready to go and one child announces they need to go back inside to go potty. After getting 3 minutes down the road another child points out that he doesn’t have any shoes on. At this point you are running late and feeling your anxiety level increase. Although in the big picture these events are minor, they still cause irritation.

As a parent, you will need to react appropriately, but your body is reacting to the stress by:

releasing adrenaline
increasing your heart rate
reducing your ability to problem-solve tightening of the muscles…
These physiological responses would be appropriate if you were facing a life or death situation but aren’t appropriate for forgotten shoes or a last minute potty run. Many caregivers have deep, unconscious fear losing control of a situation or a child. Others are lacking capacity to shoulder the child’s emotion on top of their own. Mindfulness exercises will help you live in the present moment and remain peaceful and relaxed. They will reduce your anxiety levels and help enhance concentration. We automatically do what our instincts tell us to do, unless we train ourselves for a different response. Imagine if emergency personnel didn’t train themselves to respond with thoughtfulness and just rushed in to a scene. There would be more people hurt, including the rescuers and the danger could escalate. This is what happens when caregivers, whether teacher, doctor, parent or caseworker are not trained to be mindful (and logical) in the moment. It breaks my heart when I hear a child saying “you scared me” or crying uncontrollably and running away because the sense a threat of harm, whether verbal or physically from the caregiver who doesn’t mean harm, but is doing so anyway.

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