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Mindful Parenting – Kristen Race

Mindful Parenting

Kristen Race Ph.D. is a parent of two young children, as well as an expert in child, family and school psychology. Dr. Race is the author of Mindful Parenting, and founder of Mindful Life™. All of her programs are rooted in the science of the brain with influences from the fields of mindfulness and positive psychology. Mindful Life programs are designed to improve brain function and brain development in adults and children.

In today’s interview, you’ll learn how to explain mindfulness to children and some practical ways to integrate mindfulness into family life. You’ll discover simple fun exercises to teach to children as well as powerful ones for parents too. This is an interview that is jam packed with useful tips and insights – a must see for all parents!

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Show Notes

Join The Mindfulness Summit Journey here

Come and join the community discussions at any time on our Facebook page

Check out Melli’s blog, events and retreats at MrsMindfulness.com

You can learn more about Kristen and her programs and books at mindfullifetoday.com

As a gift for the mindfulness summit Kristen has put together a special gift pack which you can access here mindfullifetoday.com/mindfulnesssummit




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Purchase a full access pass to unlock downloads for the full interview transcripts, audio, video and separate audio meditation tracks.

Upgrade for Full Access Pass

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Purchase a full access pass to unlock downloads for the full interview transcripts, audio, video and separate audio meditation tracks.

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111 Responses

  1. Kim Douglass

    Melli, I LOVE that you made the comment about the ‘Three Breath Hug’. I knew there was no way that would work for me about 75% of the time. Very intuitive! 🙂

    I really love what you have done here by getting all of these great people together in one place. Well done. <3

    1. teresa wolfe

      I agree… I can’t thank you enough for bringing together all these wonderful speakers. I love the diversity you brought us that reflects life’s diversity.
      Thank you for the insights and tips on mindful parenting. I have two boys – we listen to music, do yoga, and it helps to keep us all “mindful.” We are blessed in that my boys are in a Montessori school where peace, yoga, and openness are nurtured. I love the hug w/ breath and the rose exercises!!
      Tomorrow, October 24th, is the big day! Please post “Happy Global Oneness Day” on your Facebook page and on your twitter account with #G1Day & let’s make the day light up with Oneness and Love. http://www.globalonenesssummit.org

    2. sunita


      Thank you, I have 14 year old son and of late, I’ve been worrying about his behavior and mood swings. Through today’s talk, I’ve come to learn so many tips and ways in which I can help him deal with his adolescence. This summit has been such a blessing for me. I’m also a teacher by profession and I intend to apply some of the techniques shared to deal with my students. For myself, I’ll maintain the gratitude journal.
      I can’t thank you enough.

    3. Catherine

      Another wonderful and incitefull presentation. I learned so much from this and I don’t have kids! Meli, you should feel so proud of how this summit has come together and the significant difference you are making in this crazy world we live in.

      Also, I love the gravatars. …so cute!

  2. Karina Campbell

    I don’t have kids but my niece/nephew do meditation at primary school which is awesome – I recently spent some time at Rocklyn Ashram (highly recommend) and so wished I had learnt about mindfulness when I was at school! Never too old to learn new tricks – thank you both for this session.

  3. Marie Thomson

    Thank you so much Meli for putting this summit together is has been truly inspiring. Loved the talk today so needed. Would love know your view on mindfullness in pregnancy. Being a midwife so much can be done before birth to bring calm confident babies into the world.

  4. Terina Parmenter

    Such practical, simple, user friendly strategies! Thank you for sharing your wonderful tips and stories Kristen. I have always believed in the positive power of family rituals, (eg Family hugs!) & fun table games such as yours. Even though my “boys” are now 21 & 23, they still participate in good humour! Melli, I am in awe of you & your team’s ability to put this Summit together. Loving it, learning a lot & enjoying other attendees responses. Sincere thanks & gratitude.

  5. Emily

    Loved this one ???? have been sharing this amongst my
    Mummy friends. It’s also something we practice at the end of our current classes aimed at 3-5 year olds.
    It’s amazing to watch 15 little ones become ‘calm’ after a busy class. Thank you so much for this talk as it validates everything our little business believes in.
    What am I going to watch after the 31 days are up!!

  6. Gloria

    Thank you so much for this wonderful talk!! I teach mindfulness and yoga to students who experience significant mental health and behavioral challenges. I really like the way explaining mindfulness to children at different levels was explained in this talk.

  7. David Kelly

    Brilliant! As a divorced father of two young kids, I found this discussion to be very powerful and, potentially, extremely useful. So many great points raised. Some invaluable tools to learn and use.

    All kids who’s parents are separated have experienced (or are experiencing) increased stress levels directly linked to their parent’s feelings and emotions. As Kristen said, parents simply have to take care of themselves before they can hope to calm their kids. We have to become Mindful first, bringing the practice in to our daily lives.

    Speaking from raw, first-hand experience, it is absolutely essential for a divorcing parent to focus on healing themselves, learning to live in “the present”, to cast away hatred and resentment for their ex etc. In short, to learn to think and act positively and with kindness towards yourself. This will radiate to those around you.

    When you are dealing with your ex-partner (you will have to, as you share your amazing children…), instead of getting mad, you will just take some deep breaths… Then you will think before responding…

    In a very short while, this change in your mindset and approach will begin to be noticed by your children. They are sponges; they absorb our emotional responses. Isn’t it essential that we radiate positivity and kindness, rather than resentment and negativity?

    Only once we have learned to master ourselves, can we hope to teach Mindfulness to our kids.

    I am a work in progress. But after a few weeks of practice, in some respects, I am a very different being. For my children’s sake, I hope to continue on this Minfulness path. Thanks to you, Melli and to all of your guests and helpers. And best wishes to everyone from up here in chilly, dark yet cozy Iceland.

  8. Tony Chew

    This interview was for me the most impactful so far. Teaching children the power of mindfulness and to foster their sense of wonder will benefit both child and parent. The Mindfulness Summit interviews have been the highlight of my day for this month. Thank you Melli for putting this together.

  9. Shannon Checklin

    Thank you again. Another great talk. I learnt a lot from Kristen. The 3 breath hug, sphere breaths, breaths that blow out the candles in our minds, choosing to grow the positive seeds in our minds. My 6 yr old daughter will enjoy all this and so will my 4 yr old. So many great ideas. Thank you

  10. Bela Kotwani

    Thanks Meli you are doing a fantastic job. I am sure we all are benefiting so much from it, and in turn will help others too, Kristen loved your tips for kids, will definitely use it in my school. Thanks for sharing !

  11. Martin Benny

    QUESTION: How focusing on breathing and coming back again and again on breathing is a good way to improve openness, receptiveness, curiosity and flexibility? (Definitions below) At first sight, it seems surprising! Thank you very much and have a great day!

    “Consciously bringing awareness to your here-and-now experience, with openness, interest and receptiveness.” (The Happiness Trap)

    “Paying attention with openness, curiosity and flexibility.”

  12. Neita

    I really enjoyed this presentation and learned a lot. Particularly, I work at a park and lead nature education programs. I always incorporate some informal moments of mindfulness, such as pausing for a minute with no talking, and listening to the sounds of nature. But I also run all-day camp programs where the children can get pretty wound up and over-stimulated. I think I’ll start to introduce some of these tips to improve the flow of the day.

  13. Dolores MacNeil

    Good tips to share with children and parents, and everyone who spends time with children.
    Thank you both for sharing your expertise with us. Each new day at the Summitt supports mindfulness while bringing additional learnings each day.

  14. Jo-Anna Roberts

    Thank you. It’s great to hear about introducing mindfulness to young children. I don’t have any children in my life, but the ideas are just as helpful for us adults too. This is the way to make a more mindful and kind world. Thank you!

  15. deb rushworth

    Sometimes the best things are those that are the most fun. Thanks Kristen for confirming some of my instinctual parenting practices of mindfulness and for sharing some new ones 😉

  16. Anthony Hurdidge

    To Kristen and Melli, thank you for a great interview. As both a parent of 20 years olds and as a Primary School Governor, I can see the great benefits of sharing mindfulness with children, especially those children who have challenging backgrounds.

    I am looking forward to the two talks, in particular, teaching mindfulness to Children and having a Mindful School.

  17. Kala

    I really loved the talk by Kristen. I absolutely agree that when we become more mindful, others around us absorb the peace which in turn impacts their behaviour positively. And the simple practices that she showed are amazing while teaching kids .
    Thank you, I am enjoying every bit of the summit and feel bad I missed on a few.talks.
    Melli, I love the way you draw the best out of the speakers.You have such a sweet,soft and soulful voice .I love it.

  18. Julie Myers

    I really enjoyed this video. My husband and I don’t have kids. But, we do have nieces and nephews who are now btw the ages of 11-21. Some of our friends have kids, some of the younger cousins are having kids, and our younger neighbors have been recently giving birth. I have never felt hugely comfortable around kids, but do interact with them the best I can. After listening to this video and reading snippets of Dr. Race’s book on amazon (which I just purchased) I feel a bit smarter about kids. My husband always complains about how weird it is that his brother and sister turned out to be helicopter parents (we were all born during the 60’s and early 70’s). I look forward to reading Dr. Race’s book and sharing it with my husband.

  19. Aruna Kambhatla

    What a wonderful session. I have a teenager who is a wonderful boy but do feel that I wish I knew some of these tools to use with him earlier. I hope it is not too late to start with these practices and please do let me know if there are tips to deal with teenagers who are starting out now.
    Thanks again Milli for doing this. I can’t believe that I going strong at day 23 !!! A very ‘grateful and compassion’ prayer going towards you and all who are involved in providing this beautiful opportunity to us.

  20. dina

    It has been a really interesting journey, thank-you Melli. I had never heard about mindfulness until a few weeks ago when I had discussions with a consultant who was doing some research on how we can bring mindfulness into the workplace (international disaster response), his focus was on staff welfare rather than beneficiaries; an area sorely missed. Having heard the term, but still not really understanding what it was, my partner and I found this summit. Each evening after our son has been put to bed we tune in for the talks, and they are proving to be a life changing. I am a practitioner of yoga, and I have tried meditation when in Burma, however I could never steady my mind and I got frustrated. I love how mindfulness is not just about mediation, since the summit started I have found myself countless of times being in the moment and practicing letting go of worries associated with past and future. As for the meditation, the practices we had early on were fantastic and left me intrigued to keep going.
    As new parents, working abroad with no family or friend network, life has been challenging, It was all looking a bit grey; thank you Melli and co for reminding how glorious it is.
    As for mindful parenting, thanks for sharing practical tips, I am certainly going to make an effort to try and handle those stressful moments a little better and to focus on those beautiful moments my baby creates – instead of worrying about some deadline or what to cook for dinner. Thanks again, I hope I continue this path, as I have no doubt it will benefit me and others in my life.

  21. Carolina Corthorn

    Hi! This was great! I would really like to get that special gift pack, but I haven’t received the e-mail after entering my contact info on Dr. Race’s website. I think it would be really useful to me, because besides being a mom of two small kids, I do mindful parenting workshops for mothers here in Chile!

  22. Lori Pollard

    That was awesome. I would have loved to have that knowledge when I taught Kindergarten! or when my own kids were young! Her two examples of three minute hug and sphere breathing were just as valuable for adults as kids! definitely keeping that in my tool box! I also love the teaching of brain sections and alarm with fire in the brain. Helps me to remember that I cannot think rationally when the alarm is going off. This just explained why I was having such a hard time learning a new skill (ugh -Accounting). I was so stressed about my inability to learn the process, that my mind could not receive the instruction! Once the fear quieted, I was able to learn the material and do well in the class (so far…).

    I am so grateful that this summit has been put together. I cannot imagine the amount of work Melli, that you put into this, but please be aware of the amazing kindness and generosity that is the result! -Lori

  23. Betsy Campbell

    Awesome talk. Loved it. I am a Grammy who will share this with my Daughter who is a 3rd grade teacher and grandchildren who are 11 and 8. What a message. I wish I had heard this when I was in the midst of the busyness and stress of raising three very active children.
    Thank you so much.

  24. Lesley Rojahn

    I have really enjoyed most of the talks the summit has provided and am so truly grateful. Todays was by far the most impactful to me as I started learning about mindfulness to help my 6 year old son who is a very anxious child. I could imagine myself putting into place all of the suggestions in this interview and the sense of peace that provided for me was incredible. Thank you Melli and Kristen.

  25. Sandra Davidson

    WONDERFUL, I HAVE A grandchild who was born blind and he gets very stressed out at times especially when we are out and we have also been teaching him to do the breathing. Now we will add in the hugs. Thanks so much for all the wonderful knowledge you have imparted to us .

  26. vivianita171@hotmail.com

    Hi Melli,

    My questions for the Q&A Day is: HOw can you live the present moment when the moment itself presents discomfort ( like you may be in a place extremely hot and there is no air conditioning or you are in a traffic jam and you want to go to the toilet)?

  27. Amanda Fraser

    I just loved this one… As a mom, I couldn’t wait to hear this one. My son is only 3 but we use breathing techniques to try to calm his body down when he is upset. I truly loved the explanation of how stress works and how to explain this to my son. We will definitely be using these techniques in our house… Or grocery store ha ha!

  28. Christine Evans

    Like some of the other commenters I wish I had this advice when my children were small, but the advice is still relevant. It’s amazing what a moment of distraction combined with appreciation of the little things can do for the soul. Thank you Kristen and Melli!!

  29. Darren

    “Thousands of years ago, when our ancestors encountered a predatory animal like a lion, it was best to react immediately and not stand around thinking about the lion, admiring its beauty or wondering why it was bothering them instead of tracking down some tasty antelope. Thus, the fast track to the amygdala kept our ancestors alive.”

    ― John B. Arden, Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life

    “The way I see it, our natural human instinct is to fight or flee that which we perceive to be dangerous. Although this mechanism evolved to protect us, it serves as the single greatest limiting process to our growth. To put this process in perspective and not let it rule my life, I expect the unexpected; make the unfamiliar familiar; make the unknown known; make the uncomfortable comfortable; believe the unbelievable.”

    ― Charles F. Glassman, Brain Drain The Breakthrough That Will Change Your Life

    In other words, we can help ourselves, using Mindfulness Practice, to bravely embrace reality in the present moment, regardless of whether or not the present moment is bringing us feelings of pleasure or pain.

    “Higher consciousness is the consciousness of a higher Self, transcendental reality, or God. It is “the part of the human being that is capable of transcending animal instincts”. The concept developed in German Idealism, and is a central notion in contemporary popular spirituality.” ~ Wikipedia

    Calming the mind is proving necessary to opening up to possibility. Participating in the summit is contributing to changing my thought patterns in ways I can’t describe. What I now know I was missing, was a felt-sense of what it means to be living through ‘higher-Consciousness’.

    What it feels like is becoming clear: experiencing higher consciousness isn’t elation. It isn’t the pleasure-principle that comes into play, flooding my system with endorphins, creating a ‘spiritual high’ that would be only destined to be followed with a crash (emotionally). This is how I feel the difference.

    This practice is developing a more steady connection to remaining conscious, radically conscious, and radically connected to the ‘present moment’ which is, simply, reality (reality EXACTLY as it is).

    I’ve lived with PTSD and Depression for 20 years. Both conditions hijack the brain the way Kristen described in response to Melli’s question about the tantrums of children in the grocery. ‘Fight-or-Flight’.

    We needed a strong threat-management system prehistorically. Our hyper-aroused nervous system, always will (almost silently) seek threat in the environment. We’re on the look-out for the ‘Saber-Tooth Tigers’ in our space, that don’t exist.

    Seeking threat, becomes a natural problem for the brain to take care of (it’s favourite thing to do); this functioning of threat-detection is, for many, now a curse. The brain ASSIGNS meaning of threat to things (automatically) under this curse: traffic, a slight against our ego, anything we react to that makes us feel ‘angry’ is a threat reaction.

    We learn intellectually as we go along with PTSD, which is my lived-experience example, that our reactions aren’t warranted; however, the brain fires off a threat-response so fast, and triggers are so difficult to pin-down, we can feel as through we are puppets on a string, living life at the mercy of our threat-response system.

    The best defence is, in fact, a good-offence: Meditation and Mindfulness Practice; Practicing in solitude and in a space that is quiet and removed from the typical environment; grants us time to groove new patterns of thought; keeping us more neutral (physiologically); which is proving to minimize emotional threat-responses to triggers. This, for me, has slowly improved across the 23 days of attendance and practice related to Mindfulness, thanks to the structure Melli has provided with this summit.

    Meditation (Mindfulness Meditation): with breath-work, consistently applied to one’s reality and experience of every day; I’m blown away how powerfully soothing this can be, which is supporting me this month by keeping the nervous system less aroused (generally). This is shifting towards a reduced, reactionary feeling inside, when confronted with a trigger, normally activating fight-or-flight.

    Living in fight-or-flight, shuts down the pre-frontal cortex in the brain (Kirsten shared this as ‘smart brain’). Mindfulness is helping to keep my own brain able to remain rational, less reactionary, ‘smarter’.

    Thank you for today. Another brilliant interview, filled with quality information and tips. We so need this in the circles I’m part of (PTSD survivor community). We need this for balance, making life’s stressors much easier to work through as they inevitably will attack us from somewhere.

    Be Well

  30. Darren

    “We must be willing to let go of the life we had planned, to find the life that’s (brilliantly) waiting (in the wings) for us (to embrace).” ~ Joseph Campbell​ (In parenthesis Mine).

  31. Niamh Power

    Thank you for this wonderful opportunity Melli…I am loving the range and diversity of the speakers. I found Kristen’ s talk today really inspiring…I can so relate to just about everything she said and am trying to think about how i can start to introduce the tips into my family’s daily routine without them thinking I’ve lost the plot! I’lve got such a long list of websites to visit and books to think about buying….Thank you!

  32. Jennifer Johansen

    Really good talk, thank you Melli and Kristen. As a mother of two young children I am looking for simple, sustainable actions to incorporate into our family life. Admittedly many of my mindfulness strategies thus far have been to keep myself in check, so I can better respond to my children, particularly when they don’t behave so well. It’s comforting and validating to know I’m not alone, that books have been written on the subject and that on occasion even the experts still feel like they want to rip their hair out when dealing with their kids. It’s inspiring to know that so many others, parents or not, are following the mindfulness path in order to thrive.

  33. Eugene McCreary

    Wonderful, for sure. I’m a grandpa and father of 3 grown children. I didn’t have this wisdom available to me when they were young, alas. Now I have to figure out how to present it to my stressed-out youngest with two little kids, not to mention her stressed out husband. So inspiring, all these talks, even to an old skeptic like myself; and I find that skepticism melting away in the face of so many wonderful speakers.

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