Conscious Parenting: A Mindful Approach to Parenting

Conscious parentingParenting is one of the most enriching and challenging roles we can undertake in our lifetimes.

There is a growing interest in alternative approaches to traditional parenting methods, with an emphasis on positive discipline and fostering nurturing and respectful relationships between parent and child. Another new approach is conscious parenting.

Conscious parenting is a parenting philosophy based on the bestselling book The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children by Shefali Tsabary (2010).

Conscious parenting rests on cultivating parental self-awareness, presence, and emotional self-regulation. With this approach, parents are encouraged to manage their reactions, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.

The hope is that if we become aware of our own triggers and patterns, we can stop repeating patterns that we have learned from our own parents.

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What Is Conscious Parenting?

Conscious parenting emphasizes self-awareness, emotional self-regulation, empathy, and intentional presence (Duncan et al., 2009).

It encourages parents to cultivate a deep understanding of their own emotions, triggers, and belief systems and learn to recognize how these factors influence their interactions with their children.

Conscious parenting also involves being fully present in the moment, attuned to the needs and emotions of both ourselves and our children (Tsabary, 2010, 2023). It requires parents to approach parenting with mindfulness, compassion, and authenticity (Boegel & Restifo, 2015).

Similar to gentle parenting, conscious parenting seeks to cultivate a deep connection and mutual respect between parent and child, fostering an environment where the child feels safe, heard, and valued. It emphasizes positive discipline (Nelsen, 2006), active listening, cooperation, and fostering emotional intelligence in children (Gottman & DeClaire, 1998).

It focuses on understanding and meeting the needs of the child while maintaining firm but gentle boundaries.

While gentle parenting focuses on compassionate and empathetic caregiving practices, conscious parenting adds an additional layer of parental mindfulness, self-awareness, and self-reflection to the parenting journey (Peterson, 2015).

Both approaches share a common goal of nurturing strong, trusting, and respectful relationships between parents and children (Siegel & Hartzell, 2005), but conscious parenting places a heightened emphasis on self-awareness and intentionality.

Conscious Parenting: Shefali Tsabary at TEDxSF

You may enjoy this TED talk video by the founder of the term conscious parenting, Shefali Tsabary, who combines Western psychology with ancient Asian wisdom practices.

6 Principles of Conscious Parenting

Conscious parenting is guided by several key principles that shape its approach to child-rearing. These principles are deeply rooted in mindfulness and emphasize the importance of self-awareness, presence, and compassion in parenting (Kabat-Zinn, 2013).

Some of the core principles of conscious parenting, according to Tsabary (2010, 2023) include the following.

1. Self-awareness and self-reflection

Self-awareness and self-reflection are key in conscious parenting. Above all, conscious parents need to practice being more conscious of their own reactions, feelings, thoughts, and belief systems, as well as their own patterns and emotional triggers.

2. Mindful presence

Conscious parenting begins with being fully present in the moment with your child. It involves letting go of distractions, worries about the future, or regrets about the past and focusing wholeheartedly on the here and now (Kabat-Zinn, 2013).

By cultivating presence, parents can deepen their connection with their children and respond to their needs with greater empathy and understanding.

3. Nonjudgment

Kabat-Zinn (2013) emphasizes the importance of adopting a nonjudgmental attitude in life, and that also applies to parenting.

This involves letting go of preconceived notions, expectations, or labels about ourselves, our children, or our parenting abilities. Instead of judging ourselves or our children for their thoughts, feelings, or behaviors, conscious parenting encourages acceptance and curiosity, allowing for greater flexibility and openness in our interactions.

4. Patience

Parenting can be challenging, and it requires a great deal of patience. Peterson (2015) emphasizes the importance of cultivating patience in parenting, recognizing that change takes time and that children are constantly learning and growing.

By practicing patience, parents can respond to difficult situations with calmness and equanimity, rather than reacting impulsively or harshly.

5. Compassion

Compassion lies at the heart of conscious parenting. Tsabary (2023) encourages parents to approach themselves and their children with kindness, understanding, and empathy.

This involves recognizing and validating the full range of emotions experienced by both parent and child and responding with compassion rather than criticism or judgment. By cultivating compassion, parents can create a nurturing and supportive environment where children feel safe, loved, and understood.

6. Self-care

Tsabary (2010) emphasizes the importance of parental self-care. She encourages parents to take their own wellbeing seriously and take time for self-reflection, relaxation, and rejuvenation.

By caring for themselves, parents can replenish their energy reserves, manage stress more effectively, and show up as more present and attentive caregivers for their children.

Download 3 Free Positive Parenting Exercises (PDF)

These detailed, science-based exercises will equip you or your clients with tools to improve parenting styles and support healthy child development.

5 Real-Life Examples of Mindful Parenting

Mindful parenting is not just a theoretical concept but a lived experience for many families around the world. Here are some real-life examples of how conscious parenting principles can be applied in everyday situations.

1. Mindful listening

As Kelly sat at the kitchen table answering work emails, her daughter Maria burst into the room in tears. Instead of shooing her away, Kelly took a deep breath, closed her laptop, and turned her full attention to Maria. She simply listened as Maria poured out her frustrations about a disagreement with her best friend.

Kelly resisted the urge to jump in with advice, instead offering comforting nods and reassuring touches. Occasionally, she repeated things Maria had said or clarified something with a question. She validated Maria’s feelings throughout. Maria, feeling heard and understood, calmed down, and together they explored solutions to mend the rift with her friend.

2. Conflict resolution

In the midst of a heated argument over screen time limits, Henry and his son Peter both felt their frustrations rising. Sensing the tension escalating, Henry suggested a break.

Later, over a cup of hot chocolate, they revisited the issue, but this time with calm voices and open hearts. Henry acknowledged Peter’s desire to play his favorite video game, while Peter understood the importance of balancing screen time with other activities. Together, they came up with a compromise: setting a timer for gaming sessions and scheduling outdoor playtime as well.

3. Emotional coaching

When Fiona’s son, Jacob, came home from school looking dejected, Fiona immediately sensed something was wrong. Instead of bombarding Jacob with questions, Fiona sat beside him quietly, offering a comforting arm around his shoulder.

Jacob eventually opened up about feeling left out during recess. Remembering the “triple A” (acknowledge, articulate, accept) method, Fiona validated Jacob’s feelings, assuring him that it was okay to feel sad. Together, they talked about strategies for making new friends, such as joining a lunchtime club or inviting classmates for a playdate.

4. Shared decision-making

As the family gathered around the dinner table, Martina proposed the idea of planning a weekend getaway. Rather than dictating the destination, she encouraged each family member to share their preferences.

Her daughter Emily eagerly suggested a beach trip, while her son Ethan preferred a mountain retreat. After lively discussions and a family vote, they settled on a compromise: a coastal cabin near hiking trails. Everyone felt included in the decision-making process, making the upcoming trip even more exciting.

5. Mindful discipline

When Felix’s son Martin defiantly refused to clean up his toys for the umpteenth time, he felt his patience wearing thin. Instead of resorting to punishments, Felix took a deep breath and kneeled down to Martin’s eye level.

He empathized with his reluctance to tidy up, acknowledging that cleaning wasn’t always fun. Together, they explored ways to make the chore more enjoyable, such as playing his favorite music while tidying or setting a timer for a quick clean-up race.

Through positive reinforcement and collaborative problem-solving, Martin eventually embraced the task with newfound enthusiasm.

Conscious Parenting vs. Other Parenting Styles

Other parenting stylesMost parenting styles fall into four main categories: authoritarian, authoritative, permissive/indulgent, and uninvolved or neglectful parenting (Baumrind, 1971). Each parenting style balances challenge and support.

While conscious parenting shares some similarities with other parenting styles, such as gentle parenting, attachment parenting, and positive and authoritative parenting, it also has distinctive features that set it apart.

One of the key differences is its focus on mindfulness and parental self-awareness (Tsabary, 2010, 2023). Unlike authoritarian or permissive parenting styles, which may rely on control or indulgence, conscious parenting emphasizes modeling emotional self-regulation and nonjudgmental presence.

Conscious parenting vs. gentle parenting

Conscious parenting and gentle parenting are sometimes used interchangeably, as they share a common emphasis on empathy, respect, and connection.

Both approaches prioritize building a strong emotional bond between parent and child and fostering a nurturing and supportive environment for growth and development.

However, gentle parenting may place greater emphasis on positive discipline and boundary setting, whereas conscious parenting encompasses a broader focus on self-awareness, authenticity, mindful presence, and personal growth.

Conscious parenting vs. attachment parenting

Conscious parenting and attachment parenting share a similar philosophy rooted in nurturing and responsive caregiving. Both approaches recognize the importance of secure attachment in promoting healthy child development and emotional wellbeing (Bowlby, 1988).

However, while attachment parenting focuses primarily on the physical and emotional closeness between parent and child, conscious parenting places the emphasis on cultivating and modeling parental self-awareness.

Pros & Cons of the Conscious Parenting Style

Like any parenting style, conscious parenting has its advantages and challenges. An obvious point is that conscious parenting promotes personal growth, enhanced self-regulation, and self-awareness in the parent, whereas other parenting approaches are more focused on the mechanics of parent–child interactions.


1. Strong emotional bond

Conscious parenting fosters a deep emotional connection between parent and child, promoting trust, security, and resilience.

2. Positive behavior outcomes

Children raised with conscious parenting principles tend to exhibit fewer behavioral problems and better emotional regulation skills (Duncan et al., 2009; Boegel & Restifo, 2015).

3. Enhanced communication skills

Conscious parenting promotes open and honest communication, strengthens the parent–child relationship, and fosters mutual understanding.

4. Empathy and compassion

Conscious parenting cultivates empathy and compassion in both parent and child.


1. Time intensive

Conscious parenting requires a significant investment of time and energy, as it involves constant self-reflection, mindfulness practices, and intentional parenting strategies.

2. Challenges in consistency

Maintaining consistency in applying conscious parenting principles can be challenging, especially in moments of stress or fatigue (Bailey, 2010).

3. Social pressures

Conscious parenting may be met with skepticism or criticism from family members, friends, or society at large, posing challenges for parents who choose this approach.

4. Emotional labor

Conscious parenting entails emotional labor, as parents must navigate their own emotions while supporting their child’s emotional needs, which can be emotionally taxing (Duncan et al., 2009).

6 Steps to Increase Awareness as a Parent

Mindful presence in parentingBecoming a conscious parent is a journey that requires ongoing self-awareness and personal growth.

Here are some steps parents can take to increase their awareness and cultivate a mindful approach to parenting.

1. Practice mindfulness

Engage in daily mindfulness practices such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga to cultivate present-moment awareness and emotional resilience (Kabat-Zinn, 2013).

2. Reflect on your parenting values

Take time to reflect on your parenting values, beliefs, and goals and consider how they influence your interactions with your child (Siegel & Hartzell, 2005).

3. Seek support and guidance

Connect with other conscious parents or seek guidance from parenting experts, therapists, or support groups to gain insights and perspectives on mindful parenting.

4. Practice self-compassion

Be gentle and compassionate with yourself as you navigate the challenges of parenting, recognizing that perfection is not the goal and that mistakes are opportunities for growth (Neff, 2011).

5. Stay curious and open minded

Approach parenting with curiosity and an open mind, being willing to learn from your child’s experiences, perspectives, and feedback.

6. View your child as a catalyst and teacher

What can you learn from your child? What can your child teach you? How does your child facilitate growth and self-awareness in you? Ask yourself these questions every day.

5 Activities for Parents & Their Children

Engaging consciously in meaningful activities together can strengthen the bond between parent and child and create lasting memories. Here are some activities that parents can enjoy with their children while practicing mindfulness and conscious parenting.

1. Nature walks

Take a leisurely walk in nature with your child, encouraging them to notice the sights, sounds, and sensations around them and to share their observations with you.

2. Mindful eating

Prepare and eat a meal together with your child, paying attention to the textures, flavors, and smells of the food and savoring each bite mindfully (Albers, 2012).

3. Artistic expression

Engage in creative activities such as drawing, painting, or crafting with your child, allowing them to express themselves freely and without judgment.

4. Gratitude practice

Start a gratitude journal with your child, taking turns each day to write down things you are thankful for and reflect on the blessings in your lives (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).

5. Storytelling

Share stories or read books together with your child, encouraging them to imagine, empathize, and reflect on the themes and characters in the stories.

4 Books on the Topic

For parents seeking further guidance and inspiration on conscious parenting, there are numerous books available that offer valuable insights and practical strategies. Some recommended books on the topic include the following:

1. The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children – Shefali Tsabary

The Conscious ParentChildren help their parents grow psychologically and spiritually. But unintentionally, parents may pass on emotional distress.

The famous clinical psychologist and bestselling author Shefali Tsabary advocates mindful parenting, where children represent their parents’ neglected inner selves.

Introspective people reconnect with their wholeness. Through this journey, parents move from “know-it-all” to reciprocal parent–child relationships.

Parents realize their children can guide and teach them in the present as they rediscover themselves.

Find the book on Amazon.

2. Conscious Parenting: A Guide to Raising Resilient, Wholehearted & Empowered Kids – Pedram Shojai and Nick Polizzi

Conscious Parenting: A GuidePedram Shojai, New York Times best-selling author of The Urban Monk and The Art of Stopping Time, and Nick Polizzi, author of The Sacred Science, present practical steps for:

  • Making your family stronger
  • Connecting with kids amid technology overload
  • Addressing real-world existential fears

This book helps you adopt conscious parenting as a lifestyle rather than a goal, with advice from top parenting consultants, therapists, pediatricians, and child educators.

It builds confidence, self-esteem, emotional and spiritual resilience, and mental strength in your children.

Find the book on Amazon.

3. The Parenting Map: Step-by-Step Solutions to Consciously Create the Ultimate Parent–Child Relationship – Shefali Tsabary

The Parenting MapThe New York Times best-selling author of The Conscious Parent and The Awakened Family introduces a revolutionary parenting approach.

Every parent has the potential to nurture happy, healthy, and emotionally grounded children.

Drawing from over two decades of hands-on experience with parents, Tsabary presents a practical parenting solution that enables parents to manifest their deepest aspirations for their children.

This comprehensive guide systematically breaks down toxic inherited patterns, replacing them with genuine connections that empower us to perceive and respond to our children as individuals capable of growth and transformation.

Find the book on Amazon.

4. Raising Good Humans: A Mindful Guide to Breaking the Cycle of Reactive Parenting and Raising Kind, Confident Kids – Hunter Clarke-Field

Raising Good HumansFostering compassionate children creates a kinder, more sensitive world. Raising Good Humans offers powerful and practical ways to break reactive parenting behaviors and teach kids kindness, cooperation, and confidence.

Effective mindfulness practices will help you manage stress and difficult emotions. Parents will learn how to foster polite communication, resolve issues constructively, and practice reflective listening.

You will also face and overcome your own unproductive behaviors and natural reactions inherited from your parents’ generational habits. When children see their parents being kind and patient, they absorb these traits, forming generational norms for compassion.

Find the book on Amazon.

Helpful Resources From

We host an extensive collection of research-based articles and resources that can further enhance parents’ understanding and application of a range of different positive parenting practices. You may enjoy reading the following additional articles on topics that are related to parenting.

You may also enjoy these free mindfulness exercises with your children.

  • Our fun mindful listening challenge is a great tool to help little ones (and adults) observe sounds they have never noticed before.
  • Similar to mindful listening, mindful eating helps you slow down and appreciate good food and nutrients. Select a healthy snack you both enjoy and try out our mindful eating worksheet together.
  • Draw in our gratitude gifts worksheet together to implement a grateful appreciation of things and people in your lives.

For a deep dive into developing positive practices to help with parenting, teaching, and everyday communication more generally, our Positive Relationships Masterclass© is an excellent choice.

This masterclass focuses on developing meaningful and positive relationships with others and reminds us of the importance of investing in the social bonds that matter most, including, of course, our children. The course is suitable for psychologists, counselors, teachers, and others.

If you want to shape the wellbeing and future of children’s lives, consider this collection of 17 validated positive parenting tools designed for parents, caretakers, and guardians. Use them to lay the groundwork for children’s lifelong success and happiness.

A Take-Home Message

Conscious parenting, rooted in principles of self-awareness, mindfulness, and compassion, offers a nurturing and holistic approach to raising children.

By cultivating an awareness of their emotional triggers and past patterns, as well as empathy and authenticity, parents can build stronger emotional bonds with their children, fostering a supportive and loving environment for growth and development.

In this approach to parenting, children are seen as catalysts for change, as well as powerful teachers that can help parents heal their own wounds.

While conscious parenting may present challenges and require a commitment to serious inner work, the rewards of a deep and meaningful connection with our children are immeasurable.

Through ongoing self-reflection, intentional practices, and a commitment to nurturing relationships, parents can embark on a transformative journey of mindful parenting, enriching both their own lives and those of their children.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Parenting Exercises for free.

  • Albers, S. (2012). Mindful eating: A guide to rediscovering a healthy and joyful relationship with food. Shambhala Publications.
  • Bailey, R. (2001). Conscious discipline: 7 basic skills for brain smart classroom management. Loving Guidance.
  • Baumrind, D. (1971). Current patterns of parental authority. Developmental Psychology, 4(1:2), 1–103.
  • Boegel, S., & Restifo, K. (2015). Mindful parenting – A guide for mental health practitioners. W. W. Norton.
  • Bowlby, J. (1988). A secure base: Parent-child attachment and healthy human development. Basic Books.
  • Duncan, L. G., Coatsworth, J. D., & Greenberg, M. T. (2009). A model of mindful parenting: Implications for parent–child relationships and prevention research. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 12(3), 255–270.
  • Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377–389.
  • Gottman, J. M., & DeClaire, J. (1998). The heart of parenting: Raising an emotionally intelligent child. Simon and Schuster.
  • Kabat-Zinn, J. (2013). Full catastrophe living: Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. Bantam Books.
  • Neff, K. D. (2011). Self-compassion: Stop beating yourself up and leave insecurity behind. William Morrow.
  • Nelsen, J. (2006). Positive discipline: The classic guide to helping children develop self-discipline, responsibility, cooperation, and problem-solving skills. Random House.
  • Peterson, C. (2015). The mindful parent: Strategies from peaceful cultures to raise compassionate, resilient kids. Skyhorse.
  • Siegel, D. J., & Hartzell, M. (2005). Parenting from the inside out: How a deeper self-understanding can help you raise children who thrive. Jeremy P. Tarcher.
  • Tsabary, S. (2010). The conscious parent: Transforming ourselves, empowering our children. Namaste.
  • Tsabary, S. (2023). The parenting map: Step-by-step solutions to consciously create the ultimate parent-child relationship. YellowKite.

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