Catharine Hannay, MA

Catharine Hannay, MA

Catharine Hannay is the founder of and the author of Being You: A Girl’s Guide to Mindfulness, a workbook for teen girls on mindfulness, compassion, and self-acceptance.

TAP Into Your Experience: A Mindful Parenting Practice

TAP is a mindfulness acronym developed by Dr. Sam Himelstein, co-founder of Family Spring and director of the Center for Adolescent Studies.

It stands for:

T=Take a breath.




Take a Breath.

When you’re feeling frustrated or angry, taking a deep breath (or five, or twenty) can help you calm down enough to avoid saying or doing something you regret.

If it’s safe and appropriate to do so, you might close your eyes for a few seconds, or even step out of the room for a minute or two.

As Ash Beckham says, “The exact time frame and logistics are much less important than conscious and calculated effort to interrupt the current situation and insert some space.” (Step Up, p. 123)


Once you’ve had a chance to clear your head, take a moment to acknowledge what’s happening for you, and what’s likely happening for your child. 

For example, maybe you realize that you’re both yelling rather than listening to each other. Or you might acknowledge that your child has a condition that’s challenging for both of you—perhaps ADHD or a disability or a serious mental health issue.


Now that you’re feeling calmer and have a better handle on the situation, you’re ready to proceed with whatever response seems most helpful. 

In a tense encounter, it can make a huge difference to simply lower your volume and change your tone of voice.

How this works…


Here’s an example of practicing TAP during a challenging parenting moment: 



‘I hate you! You’re the worst!’


Takes a deep breath. 

Says to self: ‘My child is upset inside. His outside behavior is not a true indication of how he feels about me. He’s a good kid having a hard time.’ 

Then says aloud: ‘I do not appreciate that language… you must be really upset, maybe about some other things too, to be talking to me like this. I need a moment to calm my body… Maybe you do too… then let’s talk.”

(Good Inside: A Guide to Becoming the Parent You Want to Be by Dr. Becky Kennedy, p. 24)


 Conclusion: TAP Into the Present Moment

Practicing TAP can be very helpful when you find yourself caught up in tense encounters with your child. 

You might also try tapping into pleasant or neutral moments. 

Simply take a breath, acknowledge that your kid will never be this age again, and proceed to pay as much attention as possible to them and to fully experience the wide range of experiences you have together.

If you’re located in California and need help determining if your child and/or family need professional help, contact Family Spring by submitting an inquiry at this link.

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