SAHM Tip #15: Learning About Mindful Parenting


Learning about mindful parenting has created a significant change around time at home with the kids for me. And by change, I mean there’s more chance and likelihood of peace in day-to-day interactions and life. This doesn’t mean there aren’t (frequent) struggles, tantrums, or whines. It just means that they are (intended to be!) tackled in a peaceful way, and in a way where the goal is, though I fall short of it, to teach and ‘work with’ my children (problem solve, reflect, coach), and avoid ‘doing to’ them (punish, control, etc).

I first came across mindful parenting through Dr. Laura Markham’s facebook page. I then ordered a copy of her book and that was the beginning of my mindful parenting journey. I began to read it and was hooked. I loved the premise behind mindful parenting. That we do not just treat the symptoms of our children’s behaviour, or misbehaviour, but that we look for the cause and address the needs stemming from the cause. For example, my child is tired and missed a nap and thus he is prone to meltdowns…perhaps cuddle up with a book with him for some quiet, connected time, perhaps an earlier bedtime would help, that kind of a thing. As opposed to just punishing his ‘playing up’ – likely that he will only play up again because what he needed was rest.

I loved that the aim was to work with and help our child with their needs and emotions. That we keep the definition of discipline in mind which means to teach, as Dr. Dan Siegel says. Mindful parenting states that punishment doesn’t teach much; perhaps fear, but we haven’t taught or given our children any skills on how to manage whatever caused them to act out in the first place…how to regulate their emotions in order to consciously choose their actions, such as to take a break when they get angry instead of hitting.

Dr. Laura Markham’s 3 Big Ideas As Pillars For Peaceful Parenting

Dr Laura Markhams’s book is split into three big sections which I think illustrate some ‘pillars’ of mindful parenting well. They are:

1) Regulating our own emotions (as parents)
2) Connecting
3) Coaching, not controlling.

Regulating Ourselves

Regulating our own emotions means that we breathe through your triggers, that we take a pause before responding rather than just reacting, that we try to see things from our child’s perspective when viewing a certain behaviour that riles us up. That basically, we practise healthy emotional regulation. This makes our parenting more effective as we begin to walk through the emotion part of our tests and respond, and not react, to the situations in front of us. It is also beneficial as it will insha’Allah be a model of how to calm ourselves down for our children. Children mimic; they mimic all my frequent fails in parenting but also, they mimic when we get it right as well.

Connecting With Our Kids 

In mindful parenting, priority is given to the relationship and the connection we have with our children. Connecting is important as generally speaking, the connection, love and emotional safety we create with someone, is the basis of a good relationship. Firstly, a good, healthy (not perfect) relationship is a springboard for our flourishing and success.

A significant (and welcome!) by-product of connection with our children is cooperation and influence. And in relationships in general, the people who love and accept us just the way we are, we care what they think. Connection assists with discipline and increases the positives in the relationship, and more goodness and positives make relationships more enjoyable and fulfilling for everyone. Ultimately, we really cannot control anyone. Even with regards to our rights over others and theirs over us – they work through wilful submission to Allah, I think. And Allah knows best.

Coaching, Not Controlling

Coaching means that we endeavour to become sources of loving guidance and teaching for our children, rather than relying on control. It means that we teach them to walk through and healthily navigate their big feelings, if that may what’s behind their misbehaviour. It means we talk about the impact of actions and gently point out how our actions – helpful and hurtful – affect others. It means that we help them in meeting our expectations. It means that we set empathic limits, kindly and firmly, when we need to. It means that we endeavour to accept all feelings – though we may not agree – but limit actions (no hitting/harming etc). It means that, as stated in No Drama Discipline, we connect first, then redirect.

Empathy In Parenting

A big, and hard, part of mindful parenting has been trying to be empathic; trying to see things from my children’s point of view. So when my elder son snaps or yells ‘no!’ at his brother when he gets close to something he is playing with, I try to empathise first (I’m hit and miss, here!). So I try to empathise first ‘you shouted “no!” because you thought he might break your tower?” I will usually get an agreement at this point, in which case, I will understand and empathise. “I understand sweetie. What do you think you can say to him next time he comes near your things?” Smiley’s response, something like “can you not come near my things please?” Me: “Yeah, i think that’d work. I think that would feel good for him”. I continue: “what about if he doesn’t move?”. Him: “Ask Mummy [to move him]. Me: “sounds good, baby. We can try that, insha’Allah”. Then I will address little brother too, if need be.


Progress, not Perfection in Mindful Parenting

There is also a gap too between what I know about mindful parenting, what I know works (connection generally, connecting before redirecting, pausing and not just reacting but responding, problem-solving, empathy) and what I do (react, be blaming in my speech, lose it from time-to-time, get triggered often). But I try to keep in mind that it is a journey, and to focus on progress and not perfection. Self-compassion and making repairs with my children, and when I remember, backtracking when my voice takes on a stern tone (saying ‘sorry honey, that was my cross voice, let me try again’) help. They help to get me back on the high road (of striving, though falling short) and off the low road (of reactivity). It can be hard! And parenting fails are aplenty for me! But let’s fail forward, reflect on what we can make better, and notice the plenty of wins we have – and celebrate those, too.

So what can we do to incorporate mindful parenting into our lives? Where can we learn about it?

Actionable Steps In Implementing The Tip

1) What is mindful/peaceful parenting? This video gives a good, brief overview (I love and would recommend diving into The Parenting Junkie‘s work on peaceful parenting)

2) Learning about children’s development, particularly their brain development…this (when recalled!) will make much of our kids’ behaviour, or misbehaviour less urgent and more understandable (even if testing…)…consider ‘is what I’m expecting developmentally appropriate?’ and ‘how can i help them achieve these positive expectations?’ A good book that explains how neurobiology drives behaviour is No Drama Discipline by Dr. Dan Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson

3) Learning about how the Prophet SAW was around children is both so heart-warming and so helpful. How he stood up for Fatima RA when she entered the room, how he asked about Abu Umair’s bird when it passed away, and the narrations from Anas ibn Malik RA of the Prophet’s excellent treatment of him (‘I served the Prophet SAW for ten years and he never said ‘why did/didn’t you do this and this?’).

Click here for an excellent audio series entitled ‘Children Around The Prophet’ by Dr. Hesham Al Awadi. 

Click here for a post by Dr. Hesham Al Awadi on how the Prophet SAW dealt with children

Dr. Hesham also has a book on the topic of how Muhammad SAW raised the companions; I haven’t read it yet but have heard good things about it, masha’Allah. You can purchase it here.

4) Books That Teach Mindful, Peaceful Parenting:

  • Calm Parents, Happy Kids – Dr. Laura Markham
  • Peaceful Parents, Happy Siblings: How To Stop The Fighting And Raise Friends For Life – Dr. Laura Markham
  • Hold Onto Your Kids: Why Parents Should Matter More Than Peers – Dr. Gordon Neufeld

The above were my three faves. I also liked:

  • No Drama Discipline – Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson
  • Simplicity Parenting – Kim John Payne

Below are others I benefitted from:
The Conscious Parent – Dr. Shefali Tsabary

5) Muslim Teachers of Mindful Parenting:

Sister Kathryn Jones (The Peaceful Parenting Coach)
– Sister Hina Khan-Mukhtar’s parenting articles are wonderful, masha’Allah. Here is one I like about how to get our kids to open up to us. On the same website, if you search for Sister Hina’s name, a list of the articles she’s written show up (and all the ones I saw were on Muslim, mindful parenting). And ooh, this article entitled ‘Raising Children With Deen and Dunya‘ is uber useful by Sister Hina, also.

6) Some articles and quick write-ups that I’ve done from a mindful parenting slant:

Here’s one entitled: Helping Siblings Resolve Squabbles

Another about redirecting and play schemas; a little tale 🙂

– Lastly, ever experienced anger as a parent?! Here’s a piece of some healthy ways to process it 

I hope some of these tips help, and I wish you great days with your little lovelies, insha’Allah 😃


SAHM Tip #14: Using ‘Bad’ Days And Moments As Lessons


Using ‘bad ‘days and moments as lessons is something that I find uncomfortable, in terms of sitting with the discomfort of the emotions that come up after something not-nice happens. It is that when we mess up and fall short, or run into other things like spells of boredom, or find we don’t have enough time to do the things we want to do, we endeavour to make small changes.

Changes Around Screen Time

Changing things up after a ‘bad’ spell or episode comes to me quicker or slower based on my fear factor around the ensuing change. For example, a while back, I had been trying to shorten the amount of screen time the children had and I started with that change later than I wanted to. I was scared that more sibling squabbles would ensue (!) and I would become triggered and that I would wish I didn’t.

Alhamdulillah, that didn’t happen (generally!). There was one day where we went back to the screen as getting one of my kids out of the bath took me to all kinds of mental ‘cut it out!’ places though I was trying to change my thoughts and attend to my child’s experience whilst setting limits. But generally, it went well. And what new change isn’t without its blips and obstacles? It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t begin anyway – and then, troubleshoot en route to the change, should the need arise.

Changing Things Up At Home When They Don’t Work

Sometimes, when my children were even younger, we used to run into spells of boredom, and we were going out less often back then. Going out with the kids more was one of my remedies when these spells would occur. We’d usually make sure we go out after staying at home for a day. For me, staying at home with the kids a few days in a row felt (and for reals, still feels!)…risky (we’re a home educating family). Risky in the sense that I know we can get into what feels like too much limit setting (coupled with my getting worked up, and perhaps not enough connection and/or loving interaction to balance it out). Too much limit setting especially around sibling interactions, and it would make things feel a little…sour, at times. Or depleting.

So if we stayed at home one day, we’d endeavour to go out the next day (especially as fresh air makes us all feel so much better). The kids could then play in parks, playgrounds and open natural spaces, without too much limit setting from me, and they’d have space to play separately or together as well. And I would enjoy the outdoors, too.

So for us, a testing or a humdrum day at home, means that we will very likely be using that day as a prescription to go out the next day (or more rarely, that afternoon). Before we went out often, I also used to use activities as a way of changing things up when things got samey-samey.

Changes After Not-Nice Interactions With Our Littles

Using ‘bad’ moments to inform our future decisions also means in the realms of our interactions with our children. Quite a while ago now, one day when we were going out, I had some stuff on my mind. The boys got into a squabble and before I could halt my emotional brakes, I snapped at one of them. It didn’t feel great. For either of us. My son seemed to be making attempts to reconnect after that; to re-enter the safe feeling of connection. I felt bad. I didn’t wanna wallow there, but I also didn’t wanna rush past it or apologise until I thought consciously about what I could do better next time.

So alhamdulillah, that day the solution came quickly (doesn’t always). When I knew what I should’ve done from this ‘bad’ moment, I apologised and then proceeded to tell him what I plan to do next time insha’Allah; should a similar situation reoccur. And that was that.

Potty-Ville: Sour Starts To The Day And Then Changing It Up

Another thing that I had let go of after months is asking my son to use the bathroom when he woke up (this is about two years ago). He’d be super resistant to it. And I’d often find myself falling into threat mode after a while – not cool. But at that time, I really felt like I had no other choice, subhan’Allah. I felt like he needs to use it as I didn’t fancy cleaning up so whilst I was happy to let anything that he didn’t need to do go, I felt like ‘but he will have an accident and it’s not fair’ type of thing. ‘Why should I I have to clean that up when he hasn’t bothered to help himself [and me!] in the first place?’ Just wasn’t a pleasant way to start the morning.

So after doing that for ages, I actively noticed that this battle with my son was contributing to our sour starts to the day, and kind of gnawing at our relationship as well. I decided to let it go. To perhaps prompt but to let it go. So that day he didn’t go to the bathroom as soon as he woke up. And eventually, he was like ‘oh, I need to use the potty’ and made a dash for it. I decided to practise acceptance regardless of what had happened. And he made it. And then we continued with that. And it felt so much better, subhan’Allah.


Choosing What To Change and What To Not

With regards to changing things up that aren’t working, it’s okay if making change takes a while at times; as much as I value proactivity, it can take effort and energy to just roll with it and change things up, so I think it’s okay to do things one at a time; especially with littles at home… As our energy is being used up in other ways, or perhaps in another area that we’re making changes in, we may choose to intentionally overlook or let go of a not-so-great thing, whilst we work on another; or preserve energy for something else that is more important.

So how can we use our ‘bad’ moments or things we don’t like as springboards for change, and as a means of informing our future decisions, insha’Allah?

Actionable Steps to Implement the Tip:

1) After ‘sour’/’bad’ interactions with our loved little people, we could try to stop and think of one thing we would do differently next time, should the situation arise again.

2) If there is a reoccurring incident or thing in our homes, such as, say, the morning-potty-use-ville in our home, we could think about what we can do to change it. Is it us? Do we need to let it go? Or try again if it’s something to do with capability? If we can’t let it go, can we change our approach? (make it fun, get creative, do it post connection time and play, kindly and firmly uphold it and follow through that it needs to happen?).

3) We could learn about areas that we feel incompetent in, or feel like we’re falling short in. For me, at the moment, it’s taking a breather and reacting calmly when there are sibling squabbles and then facilitating problem solving for them. It just doesn’t happen these days. So I’ve just gone back to listening to the chapter in a siblings audiobook I have by Dr. Laura Markham, entitled ‘Teaching Peace’  – which goes through this. So it helps to be reminded if we forget, or learn in order to progress. Same with marriage and home education: we can learn about these areas and progress imperfectly (hey, change can be hard, and is often uncomfortable). Sometimes, it takes pain for me to step up and learn; I don’t look for a reminder as soon as would be wise.

4) Experiment: play with what works and what doesn’t when you change things up. Sometimes, I can create a real heavy feeling around a change, like it’s a ‘big’/daunting thing, and it doesn’t help in getting the change ball rolling. Sure, there are nerves and fears around changing things up (‘what if I lose it at them?’, ‘what if I feel shattered and triggered? Hmm, let’s leave it!’ or is that just me?! :-D). But approach is as play, as fun, as ‘ooh, let’s see where this takes us’. Let’s use self-compassion if it doesn’t work or requires tweaking, rather than writing it off as a complete flop. Remember, it is only a complete flop if we don’t learn from it. Otherwise, it is a useable and useful experience to inform future decisions, insha’Allah. So Bismillah!

I hope some of these tips help, insha’Allah.
And I wish you wonderful days with your littles 🙂