One Minute to Zen: From Hot Mess to Mindful Mom in One Minute or Less by Ali Katz (Book Excerpt)

Chapter 8: Make it a Family Affair

Model, Model, Model!


“The Golden Rule of Parenting; do unto your children as you wish your parents had done unto you.” —Louise Hart


People are constantly asking me how to get their kids to meditate. My very first question to them is, do you meditate? Children are great at imitating us. They are the mirror for every bad word we’ve ever said! So let’s give them every positive example that we can.

Our kids pay much more attention to what we do than what we say. We can preach to them all day long but trust me, they are watching our actions and words.

If we talk to our kids about how important it is to eat healthy, and we are chomping on chips all day long, think they will listen?

If we tell our kids not to curse, but bad words are flying out of our mouth all day long, think they will listen?

If we tell our kids how important it is to take deep breaths when they are stressed, and they see us do it, think they will listen?

Yes! Maybe I got you on the last one.


I will never forget the very first time I saw my oldest take deep breaths when he felt stressed, unprompted by me. The only reason he knew to do that is because he had seen me do it, probably hundreds of times, and he caught on.

If you want your kids to grow up thinking exercise, eating well, getting enough sleep, and using one-minute meditations are important, then set a good example. You are setting the tone for your home, so take advantage of the gift you have—their attention. They are paying attention.

This doesn’t mean that we as parents have to be perfect all the time. It isn’t possible even if we tried, but our children can see us putting our best foot forward each and every day. When we do fall off our routines, getting right back on to them is a lesson for our kids too. It’s not about beating ourselves up for what we didn’t do, it’s about moving forward in the most nourishing way possible.

In order for our kids to learn from us, we have to talk about our practices with them. Let them know you meditate and use one-minute meditations when you feel stressed. Let them know at a traffic light that you are making a conscious choice to not pick up your phone, but to breathe instead. When you feel overwhelmed, frustrated, sad, or stressed, let them occasionally know, and tell them what tool you are using to come back to center. We want our kids to have these tools, but we can’t expect them to magically develop them without an example and guidance.

We are also showing our kids that we have a range of emotions just like they do. In fact, all humans do, and even though some of the feelings we have aren’t the most fun, they are normal. We can’t control every situation in life, but we can control how we respond to it.

I have some clients that have instituted a short family meditation time each night. I have one client that climbs into bed each night and meditates with her daughter. I have other clients who lead their young kids by example, creating an environment in their home where meditation is normal and just something that people do. Their young kids won’t remember a different way.

No matter what feels right to you, any exposure to self-care and self-help tools is a huge gift that you can give your children. Talk about the ways you take care of yourself in normal, everyday conversation. Make it a part of your family vocabulary. Even if your kids don’t immediately pick up the tools, you are embedding them into their knowledge base to use anytime that feels right for them.

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Ali Katz is a certified meditation teacher, and creator of the Hot Mess to Mindful Mom brand. She has been featured on ABC, NBC, FOX News, in Family Circle Magazine, Dr. Laura and many other outlets. Visit The latest in the series, One Minute to Zen: Go From Hot Mess to Mindful Mom in One Minute or Less, is available on Nov. 6, 2018.