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How to parent mindfully

Losing her newborn son inspired Simone Derman to write an empowering journal to teach kids coping strategies and life skills they need to help them communicate better and to build their confidence. She talks to us about her journey to putting together her Mindful Me Life Skills Journal.

Tell us a little about your journey to writing Mindful Me Life Skills Journal?

In 2017, I lost my seven-day-old son, Knox, unexpectedly while I was still recovering in the hospital from his birth. This sudden loss sent me spiralling into grief and a few months of heavy depression and trying to drink and sleep my feelings away. I knew this wasn’t sustainable and I very soon realised that I lacked any skills or healthy coping mechanisms in order to deal with this trauma.

I knew I needed to get myself together, for the sake of my husband and my two remaining boys then aged 4 and 2. I turned to every form of therapy known to man in order to help process my loss. My motivations for immediately starting my healing journey were simple. I wanted to be the best mom and support system I could be for my two sons, I never wanted them to feel that they had a mother who was disassociated and emotionally unavailable to them.

While on my own healing journey, I started to notice my boys struggling. They were extremely anxious and most likely feeding off my anxious energy as well. Their struggle was hard for me to witness. I could also see they also lacked the vocabulary and tools to put their feelings into words, making things even harder for them to understand, nevermind process. They kept asking when their brother was coming home and they didn’t understand why their mom was so sad.

I noticed I was unable to hold myself in their discomfort so I wanted to start giving them techniques and methods that could help them understand their emotions in a very basic way.

I searched high and low for resources to teach mindfulness practices to children and help them process their big feelings in a child-friendly way and kept coming up empty-handed. I had always followed the conscious parenting principles and this peaceful way of parenting since I had my first child, but I felt like I needed more. I then completed a year long conscious parenting coaching course through the Dr Shefali Coaching Institute. She is a figurehead of conscious parenting, a New York–based clinical psychologist, author, and public speaker. (In case you’re wondering how popular she is, the Dalai Lama wrote the opening to her first book, Oprah has considered her one of the best interviews she’s ever had, and Pink is a fan of her books, which include: The Conscious Parent, The Awakened Family, and Out of Control).

There is a big discussion about conscious parenting. What makes a conscious parent?

In short, a conscious parent is willing to see their part and really own their role in the entire parenting process.

They often see children as a direct mirror to help heal themselves. Meaning, the focus is shifted away from the child and trying to “fix” their behaviour, but rather focuses on what the child's behaviour is triggering in the parent - often an unhealed childhood wound.

Choosing conscious parenting is a commitment to expand their nervous system to practise nurturing, loving, and respectful parenting strategies and therefore create a secure attachment with their children.

A conscious parent is one who takes a mindful approach to the parenting process, engaging in thoughtful and intentional decision-making to cultivate a healthy and supportive home environment for their children.

Conscious parenting involves becoming mindful of the motivations behind each parenting decision and developing approaches tailored to the individual needs of each child. To have the capacity to really parent the child standing in front of you, not the fairy tale version you had in your mind.

How should one navigate the journal to get the most out of it?

Although the book is designed for children to be able work independently and go at their own pace if they wish, they may also choose to have you involved in completing the journal.

Image: Supplied
Image: Supplied

The journal provides a huge opportunity for parents to bond with their children. It opens the door to powerful topics and life lessons that will engage your children in conversations you may have struggled to previously access with them.

How did you go about selecting some of the topics you cover in the book and why?

When planning and developing the journal, I looked at the 10 most essential life skills that could be introduced as topics to children from an early age.

These were things that I felt I wanted to teach my own children and also topics and skills I wish I had access to growing up. I decided to take the attributes that would have had a major impact on my own life had I been empowered with them at an earlier age. Examples of topics and how they covered are covered in the workbook:


Learning to self-reflect and become self-aware is a lifelong process that many of us don’t really get started on until adulthood. This section will introduce kids to the concept of introspection, helping them gain the skills necessary for self-reflection, which is essential to emotional processing.


Managing the feelings that overwhelm the nervous system and interrupt our growth mindset is a huge superpower we can develop. Supervillains love fear and anger – but if we’re able to manage our fear and anger, we can continue to engage in positive actions that reflect our growth mindset instead of focusing solely on overwhelming the nervous system. This section introduces your young readers to the power of meditation for managing and controlling feelings, as well as cultivating empathy for others. .


Illustrated as a short story, it introduces kids to the idea of reframing negative emotions into positive thoughts and outcomes. This story centres around Billy, who is ashamed of his swimming abilities even though he desperately wants to join the local swim team. By learning how to accept how he is feeling he is able to change how he is thinking and reframe negative thoughts into positive thoughts, Billy is able to put into action a plan to become a better swimmer and a member of the swim team.

Mindful Me Life Skills Journal can be purchased at Takealot.

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