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Taking Action: Mindful Parenting

Mindful Parenting: Techniques for Practicing Emotional Regulation

(Drawn from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (Adapted from Rathus & Miller, 2015)

Understand and name your emotions; identify them and know what they do for you.

  • Ask yourself questions about what you are feeling; what is it, what prompted it, does your emotion fit the facts?

Decrease the frequency of unwanted emotions, by changing them once they start

  • Step back and get unstuck; shift attention away from the emotion you are feeling.

Decrease emotional vulnerability and increase resiliency

  • Practice TIP: Change your body Temperature to change your automatic nervous system

Intensely exercise to calm down your body

Progressively relax your body

Reduce emotional suffering by managing extreme emotions:

  • Accumulate positive emotions and recollections of pleasant events, build your emotional muscle through practice, anticipate strong emotions and map out your response.
  • Physical well-being matters by practicing Please:

Treat Physical Illness

Balance Eating

Avoid Mood Altering Substances

Balance Sleep


Build your reservoir of positive activities:

  • Short term: do and feel things that make you feel good and, whenever possible, try not to focus on worries.
  • Long term:
  • Don’t avoid or procrastinate doing those things that you don’t want to face. Putting them off creates additional anxiety and stress.
  • Set goals for yourself related to what you value. Make these things that you can
  • Pick one of the goals and make a plan with achievable action steps. Include a way to measure and keep track of your progress.
  • Get to work! Start immediately on the first action step.
  • Give yourself credit for each action step and share your success. Celebrate the accomplishment of your goal.
  • Reflect on how your achievement impacts your emotional well-being and regulation. You’re building a kind of mental muscle that supports emotional resiliency.

Curious to try meditation?

“Mindfulness of Breathe” from The Free Mindfulness Project. This website includes free guided meditation exercises,


Sit or lie in a comfortable position. You may choose to close your eyes or keep them open, if you are feeling tired it may be useful to let just a little bit of light in to keep you alert.


The Breath
Begin by gently moving your attention onto the process of breathing. Notice the sensations of each breath as it happens, whether you focus on the rise and fall of your chest or abdomen, or on the feeling of the breath at the nostrils. Really feel what it is like to breath, just observing it as it happens.

As you engage in this exercise you may find that your mind wanders, caught by thoughts or by noises in the room, or bodily sensations. When you notice that this happens, know that this is okay, and simply notice the distraction but gently bring your attention back to the breath.


Ending the exercise
Take a few moments to yourself, connecting with your experience in the present moment. Expand your awareness from the breath into the space around you, and as you feel comfortable to do so, opening your eyes and bringing the exercise to a close.


Take a few moments to think about what your experience was in this exercise, and how you feel in the present moment.

Tips for Talking with Someone You Disagree With

  • Before the conversation begins, use the techniques for regulating your emotions and relaxing your body. Remind yourself of techniques to counteract your emotional reflexes.
  • Start the conversation with open-ended questions and statements: “Why do you feel this way?” and “Help me to understand your position…”
  • Be respectful, even when you disagree. Try to understand why a person feels the way they do.
  • Calmly present your own position or point-of-view.
  • Create common ground, even if it is unrelated to what you’re talking about.
  • Agree to keep talking even if no resolution is reached.
  • Offer options for resolution or compromise
  • Your goal isn’t winning the argument or convincing the other person; the goal is finding an agreement, which may just be an acknowledgment of differences.


Steps to Unplug and Tune out the Noise from Social Media and the News

  1. Create a parking lot for your family’s technology.
  2. Limit when you check your devices – even if you need to be on-call for work, carve out a block of time where you commit to not checking email or social media.
  3. If the news is making you crazy, create playlists of music or entertaining (but not political comedy) podcasts.
  4. Establish a routine for when you check the headlines. Don’t do it first thing in the morning, during the witching hour between the end of the school/work day and dinner.
  5. Use a timer to limit the time spent on social media. If you’re really hooked, set up “parental controls” for yourself!
  6. Don’t take your device to bed; even better, don’t use a screen for the hour before you go to sleep.
  7. Find ways for your family to be together without cell phones in hand – family dinner or game night, outdoor play, or shared hobbies.
  8. When you get together with friends, have everyone agree to not look at or use their phones or tablets.

Getting better at regulating your emotions isn’t only about control, it’s about action.

If there is an issue you care about, find ways to get involved.

Volunteer locally.

Get out and get active. If the gym isn’t your thing, find a friend to walk with regularly.