Mindful Parenting: Strategies to Overcome Cognitive Biases

March 11, 2023

No matter how much we wish our decisions were based on sound logic and reason, cognitive bias often leads us to make faulty decisions due to a systematic error in our thinking. Cognitive (information- processing) biases affects all areas of our life, including parenting.

Here are some tips to avoid cognitive biases in your parenting process.

  • Make decisions based on your child’s needs, not you childhood experience

A common bias occurs when we believe our children have the same needs as we had in the past when we were children. For instance, if you experienced being overly controlled by your parents when you were a child, you may be biased towards granting your own children more freedom and independence than you had. This could be in the form of not wanting to interject in their decisions or influence them in any way. However, it is important to remember the needs of children have changed and evolved over time, and may not be the same as when you were growing up.

If you were the kind of person who was capable of making decisions independently, your child may not be the same way and require more direction. Refusing to provide your child with guidance because of your own experiences with your parents may have a negative psychological impact, causing them to feel neglected or insignificant.

Rather than making assumptions based on your own childhood experience, it is better to ask your child what their needs are in different situations if you are unsure.

  • Work on your childhood traumas

The research indicates that childhood trauma can lead to cognitive biases, such as attributing causes to external forces, misinterpretations, and drawing false conclusions. This can manifest itself in the parenting process, leading to distress and emotional imbalance for the child. When we struggle to build a relationship with ourselves, it can be difficult to also create a bond with our children. Thus, it is important to recognize when we might be overreacting to our children due to past experiences, rather than the present.

Parenting is an incredibly rewarding experience that helps us to better understand ourselves and the world around us. It provides an opportunity to develop our capacity to love, nurture, and support another person. The challenges of parenting can be both rewarding and difficult. From sleepless nights to stressful days, parenting can be a challenge, but it is an important part of adult life.

If you find that your emotions and reactions are at times overwhelming, it may be worthwhile seeking professional assistance to help maintain a healthy relationship with your family.

Delia Ciobanu

IBSB Student Counsellor