Books for Helping Parents Teach Mindfulness, Compassion & Empathy
Many Western parents interested in exploring mindfulness, emotional intelligence and similar techniques grew up in traditional Western homes. Where, then, would they look for ways to incorporate their new perspectives into their parenting skills?
The good news is that publishers have been noticing these interests and are producing more books focused on skills for conscious parenting.
A New York Times bestseller, The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children, by Shefali Tsabary, Ph.D., emphasizes that the first step to conscious parenting is the parents focusing on their own spiritual growth and awakening. The goal for parents is not to be the child’s teacher, but to learn alongside their children.
Dharma Parenting: Understand Your Child’s Brilliant Brain for Greater Happiness, Health, Success and Fulfillment by neuroscientists Robert Keith Wallace, Ph.D. and Frederick Travis, Ph.D. offers an individualized approach, through the combination of neuroscience and ancient Ayurvedic teachings, to raising happy and successful children, unfolding their full mental and emotional potential.
The Yes Brain: How to Cultivate Courage, Curiosity and Resilience in Your Child by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, PhD. demonstrates how parents can cultivate their children’s ability to say “yes” to life’s experiences, despite the challenges and frustrations of a complex world.
Other books provide age-appropriate exercises, and techniques that children can learn. They include:
Awakening Child: A Journey of Inner Transformation Through Teaching Your Child Mindfulness and Compassion by Heather Grace MacKenzie provides numerous guidedmeditation exercises for children and parents. It stresses that mindfulness is not just sitting and meditating, but also practicing being present and aware throughout the day’s activities.
Building Emotional Intelligence: Practices to Cultivate Inner Resilience in Children by Linda Lantieri provides guided meditations and activities divided into age categories: 5-7, 8-11 and 12 and up. It includes a CD of spoken-word exercises read by David Coleman.
More traditional formats, such as baby books, poems and stories, also explore mindfulness and related topics. The Twelve Gifts of Birth by Charlene Costanzo is a beautifully crafted first book for baby to last for life. Its illustrations, hand-tinted black and white photos, remind children and their parents of the beauty of the gifts they receive at birth, such as the 11th gift, love: “It will grow each time you give it away.”
Through the rhythm of the poems and the tranquil environment created by the art, Breathe and Be: A Book of Mindfulness Poems by Kate Coombs and illustrated by Anna Emilia Laitinen is a meditation in itself.
Good People Everywhere by Lynea Gillen, illustrated by Kristina Swarner, reveals a world in which people do things in their daily lives to spread kindness and compassion. The book asks, “What will you do?” It encourages children to become aware of those in their community who do good, and to think of how they could add to that.
The Energy Bus for Kids: A Story About Staying Positive and Overcoming Challenges, by Jon Gordon and illustrated by Korey Scott, shares wisdom and inspiration from Joy, the school bus driver. She teaches the children that they have the power every day to choose positive energy and to infuse their whole world with love.
Candace Apple is owner of Phoenix & Dragon Bookstore, 5531 Roswell Rd NE Sandy Springs, 30342, 404-255-5207. [email protected].