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An interview with Dr. Shefali Tsabary, clinical psychologist, New York Times Bestselling author of the book, The Conscious Parent, and others including The Awakened Family and Out of Control.

What is conscious parenting?

Let’s start at the beginning. I am a mindful parenting coach who advocates peaceful parenting approaches.

Some may boil down peaceful parenting to: parenting without punishment.  While that definition conjures up mild panic in most parents (along with images of ill-mannered children), peaceful parenting goes beyond simply “no punishments.”

Peaceful parenting focuses on:

Controlling the environmentLocking the pantry door rather than punishing a child who sneaks treats
Emotional regulation of the parentDeep breaths, a calm voice
Connection with the childThe greatest influence on behavior is emotional connection

How is conscious parenting different?

Well, peaceful parenting and conscious parenting are the same, but conscious parenting can perhaps be thought of as a “level-up” — like when Mario eats the mushroom and grows up into SUPER MARIO. 🍄

That’s conscious parenting in a nutshell: SUPER Parenting.

It has all the components of peaceful parenting, but with a much stronger focus on the parent. Rather than focusing on raising the child, it’s more about raising the parent.

The best way to explain this paradigm shift is through an example: your two year old refuses to put on her shoes.

When usual persuasion methods prove unsuccessful, you grow frustrated. You threaten punishment (an attempt to control the child and situation), but it doesn’t work. You become angry. You yell and threaten to punish (No iPad in the car for you!).

Let’s run through the peaceful parenting points above:

Controlling the environmentYou place the shoes and socks by the door so the child doesn’t get frustrated with the task of finding matching pairs.
Emotional regulation of the parentYou calm your internal mood through deep breathing and not raising your voice.
Connection with the childYou get down on your child’s eye level, seek to understand the need underneath her refusal or tantrum. Is she tired? Is she worried about going to school? Help her express her worries.

But here is where we get bonus points for conscious parenting: We use a deep level of introspection and self-awareness to see that we are triggered (a fancy word meaning overly angry), and then we ask ourselves WHY. And that’s the secret sauce: the WHY.

Are you triggered because you have FEAR of running late (and that dreadful things will happen)?

Conscious parenting is about bringing your awareness to that hidden fear or those subconscious thoughts running in the background. Then, you can metaphorically hit CTR+ALT+DELETE to stop those fears.

But we’ll hit traffic and be an hour late if we don’t leave right now!  (Maybe you will, maybe you won’t. But you don’t let that thought run the show).

And you realize that yelling is caused by that fear hidden in the background…. NOT because your child refuses to put on her shoes.

Let me take this Windows PC metaphor WAY too far here: when you are angry, yelling, or punishing…that’s a pop-up window. Open your task manager and end that thought, fear, or anger running in the background, or at least, reduce its control. (Simply acknowledging the thoughts are there is the best way to reduce their control on your behavior.)

Conscious parenting is the recognition that parenting is all about YOU and your internal world.

The following table compares mainstream and conscious parenting:

 Traditional parentingConscious parenting
Main focusThe childThe parent’s internal world 
Main toolDiscipline and punishmentsConnection with the child
Uses high level of:ControlIntrospection and self-awareness
Sees the child as:An objectA teacher
Results in:Power struggles, ruptured connection, rebellion, dependence on consequencesDeeper connection, greater influence, elevated role as child’s teacher, greater self-control of triggers and emotions
Inspired and influenced by:Habits, outdated beliefs, childhood experiencesScience and research.
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6 Replies to “Conscious Parenting vs. Mainstream Parenting”

  1. Love love love this blog post! It is so great to see example of situations and mainstream vs. Conscious parenting.

  2. Loving your post! I never know about conscious parenting and I go along with my intuition. The table is a great help! Thank you for reassuring me that I am movin in the right directions and now I aspire even more to be a teacher to my kids!

  3. i love conscious parenting but honestly, some of the ideas dont work. its similar to spiritual bypassing. Great ideas but lacking in practical application

  4. Rasa Priya, I’d love to hear what you have tried and what doesn’t work for you. I am a believer in a cross between the old and the new. I am a Conscious Parenting Coach and I’m learning to mix the traditional in when it makes sense. Would love to hear what you think can be different.

    1. My 3 year old son likes to hit. He actually enjoys it. It’s not done out of frustration its not done out of anger. Sometimes he hits the dog and he laughs. When I apply the conscious parenting approach of looking at my own sense of being uncomfortable, it’s true, when another suffers from violence caused by his hand I feel uncomfortable. There is a part of me that wants him to be free to experience the world on his own terms, but I also don’t want anyone hurting another being. We connect with him and really try to be present. We try to practice conscious parenting as best as we can, but we find there are instances when introspection is not the solution. We dont believe in control but if our son hits the wrong dog, there may be serious consequences. Some might say we are acting from fear, the fear of our son being bitten from a dog that he hits. Well….yes. I have no answers at this point. The teachers at his Montessori school are concerned about his hitting. The all agree it is not done from frustration or anger. They see him as loving and kind.

  5. I am a personal coach and a writer and a mom. I am inspired and moved by the Conscious Parenting model but find that finding practical applications of the process is often lost. I gain understanding and perspective of myself in retrospect but want to be more present in the moment not just after the apology. As a mother of a three-year-old, I find that my patience falters and feel guilty for losing my patience but this does not improve my track record. I would love to hear from other moms and parents about how conscious parenting has worked or been realized in their lives. I am working on a collection of essays about the path of conscious parenting and some other examples would be great.

    I am happy to share my stories as well. If you would like to share your insights and use of conscious parenting knowing it may be used in a collection of essays, please email me at Thank you for this wonderful article.

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