The Power of Words and Mindfulness in Parenting

I wanted to share a session on the power of words and mindfulness in parenting.  This session created by Dr. Lemite, School Psychologist and Dr. Anna Hebb, School Social Worker can be adapted to your needs. You could change the SOL life activity to a different stress-causing event in the home or school. Be creative! You can also use some of the resources shared in this post for clinical practice, classroom, or personal use.

Today we will role play three scenarios.  We have created scenes that may seem over the top only to help us understand the importance of our words.  As you watch the role plays between mom and child, ask yourself what really matters most to the mom or the child?

Exuberant Mom Role Play

Passing score on SOL

Kim (child)– Mom I passed my SOL

Anna (mom): With Pom Poms and dancing  Oh Kim!  You are brilliant, smart, beautiful and amazing!!!  You passed!  Let’s call your aunt Dee and celebrate on facetime.  Ad lib…(GO OUT EAT, ETC…) I told you she was going to be a doctor!

Kim (child)- shy away- lowers head and walks away because mom is not connecting with her

What message is this mom sending? How did the child respond?

Critical Mom Role Play

Failing score on SOL

MOM (Kim) – SOL’s were today….  How did you do! (expecting positive)

Child (Anna)-  ummmmmmmmmmmmmmm were they today? Did I leave my skateboard outside?  I’m hungry.  Do you have any snacks?

Mom (Kim)  “Anna”…. I’m talking to you …. Did you take your test today?

Child (Anna)– Puts  head down –mumbles, “yes”. Starts to whimper a little–I failed.

Mom (Kim) you did ?!?…..what happened Anna….you know you needed to focus on that test

You told me you studied!…..Did you read your notes before the test?  (BIG SIGH- SMH- throw my hands up).

Child (Anna)– I’m so sorry. I really tried hard mom. I’ll do better next time.

Mom (Kim) — I know you did. (say in a negative way)

What message is this mom sending? How did the child respond?

What were your experiences in school around testing and doing well, or failure as a child? We can change patterns or cycles passed on.  We can be different as parents.

The point is to get us in a place we can have a more mindful conversation during these critical times.  

Mindful Scenario

A mindful conversation would exist in either scenario of pass or fail, and why is that? It’s helping the child to develop a growth mindset. Growth mindset takes into account struggle, failure, and the importance of time.  We are helping our children develop healthy coping skills because we know life is not all good and we struggle with weaknesses, and that’s okay.

Mom (Kim)— Hey Anna. how did it go today?

Child (Anna)- Mom, you are not going to believe this but I failed by 3 points.  I feel awful.  I’m so stupid.

Mom (Kim)– Oh Anna, I know that you feel disappointed.  What do you think happened?

Child:  I don’t know mom.  Maybe I should have studied more? Are you disappointed in me?

Mom- (Kim)  I want to see you pass, Anna, but sometimes we don,t get what we want.  I still love you and I know you are a hard worker.  What can we do next?

Child: The social studies SOL is next week, can you help me study?

Mom: (Kim)  of course!

Child:  I love you, mom!  HUG EACH OTHER

Mom: Hey you want to help me set the table?

Child:  YEAH!  What’s for dinner?

Mom: Pizza!

What really matters most? What we communicate through words and body language will shape the child’s self-image. How can we help our children enjoy the experience and have a growth mindset?

Video of the skits by Phillip Brooks, Music Teacher of Hopkins Elementary

Set-up and Agenda for Muffins for Mom 

Moms were invited with their children before school to hear information on how to prepare for the SOLs. The children served their mothers muffins and juice.  Angela Valentine coordinated the event and gave an introduction. We then had a teacher report information on the SOLs and how to prepare from the teacher’s perspective.  We then moved into the power of words and mindfulness parenting.  In the end, we had a teacher talk about Wilma Rudolph while showing the pictures in the book, and showing a quick YouTube video of Wilma running and winning the Gold Medal. The video is below; click the link.


Mindfulness Activity

Briefly, Mindfulness research has been shown to promote the ability to feel in control, make meaningful relationships, be calm, and accept the experience without denying the facts. Let’s try an exercise that will help us focus on our breathing.  First, let’s use the Stress O Meter to gauge your stress level this morning

You can guide the audience, or use one of the many breathing exercises on Youtube.

Repeat the Stress Level measure

Hopefully, we are feeling more relaxed.

Review other techniques on the handout included below.

handout of mindfulness strategies (1)

Review Relaxation apps, especially Pacifica website.

Relaxation apps

Leave them with this quote to take home.  We laminated the quote and added a space for them to write with a sharpie their affirmation.

Be very happy when you are tested in different ways. You know that such testing produces endurance. Then you will be mature and complete…

My affirmation:

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