Carol’s Mindful Parenting Column

The family vacation, an American tradition. Whether it involves renting a house on Cape Cod, taking a trip to Disney World, or all piling into the family car or RV, it usually implies more togetherness than families experience any other time of the year. Spending time together – that’s our goal, right? That’s what family means, right? We want to believe this, but our anxiety has made popular a plethora of hilarious movies that poke...

  Katherine Kinzler’s article, The Superior Social Skills of Bilinguals (NYT 3/11/16), cites recent research by herself and others that indicates that young children growing up in a household in which they are exposed to more than one language develop a greater capacity for a skill that is crucial to interpersonal understanding. Because they must keep in mind who speaks what language to whom, they have constant practice in putting themselves in the place of others. It...

  In Marianne’s last two columns on Bev Bos, she shared and reinforced Bev’s belief of the importance of parents creating memories and traditions for children and of passing on memories and traditions from their own childhoods. I would like to expand this theme a bit further. There are really two related but separate themes here. One is the theme of children creating new memories of experiences such as family vacations, decorating for the holidays, and other...

  One of the hats I wear is that of a spiritual counselor and religious educator. Combining my background in developmental psychology with my faith, I have developed a series of talks I call “Parenting in Partnership with God.” I was therefore delighted to make the acquaintance of a developmental psychologist who has brought the importance of spirituality in a child’s life into the mainstream. In her book, The Spiritual Child, Lisa Miller documents a boatload...

  As holiday time approaches and children begin to get excited and form expectations about the meaning of Christmas, Chanukah, and other celebrations, I want to ask you parents to pause and reflect on what message you are sending to your children. Because young children are just gaining the cognitive capacity to see the world from points of view other than their own, they are naturally self-centered (“egocentric” in psychological lingo) and easily fall into an attitude...

  Most likely, few of you readers of this column are grandparents. Most of you who have young children, however, probably have one or more parents of your own who play a role in your children’s lives. As a grandparent myself, I offer this column to encourage you to give some thought to the nature of the grandparenting relationship. Perhaps it will even encourage you to open up a conversation with your parents that will make...

  Now that school has started, children will frequently be bringing home papers, drawings, craft projects and things they have collected that they want to share with their parents. Behind each of these offerings is a message. Often, however, our parental response fails to take into account the subtleties of the messages children are trying to convey. Too often we respond with a stock phrase such as “Good job!” or “It’s beautiful!” without really considering why...

  In my last column I explored the concept of “good stress,” the idea that healthy cognitive and emotional growth requires the opportunity to meet challenges and discover that one can deal with minor frustrations and failures. The essential concept is that good stress is experienced as welcome challenge and does not become overwhelming. In a perfect world, we would design our environment to provide just the optimal level of challenge meted out in optimal doses. Our...

  On May 5th and again on May 12th a number of parents gathered at Putnam Indian Field School to discuss issues prompted by the book Mindful Parenting by Kristen Race. Most of the discussion centered on ways in which parents can be mindful of the effects of the stressors in our overstimulating and over-programmed 21st century environment and can make changes in their home environments to reduce stress. While no one questions the pervasive unhealthy effects of...

  I bet you’ve heard the term bandied about a good deal recently. Perhaps you’ve wondered what it’s really all about and whether it has any relevance to yourself or your parenting. Although the concept has its origins in Eastern religious meditation practices, it has now gained a broad range of meaning and critical relevance to raising happy, healthy, and capable children of the twenty first century. A simple definition of mindfulness is that it involves living in...