Self Compassion

Self-compassion is an important concept that we don’t hear a lot about, and one that most of us don’t practice enough. Both kids and adults need self-compassion

What is self-compassion?

Self-compassion means understanding your emotional state in a non-judgmental way, to be able to turn understanding, acceptance, and love inward.

Our outlook and goals are often navigated by two things: 1) our feelings from our emotions and 2) the influence of others. Without self-compassion, our expectations and actions can be misguided. That’s why everyone needs to have self-compassion.

We shouldn’t blame ourselves when something bad happens.

It’s not uncommon for people to blame themselves when something bad happens. For example, kids who get bullied, have parents who divorce or have had a fallout with a friend often blame themselves. By teaching self-compassion, parents can help change their kid’s perspective so that they don’t automatically blame themselves when something bad happens.

Teach your children to accept their thoughts and feelings

Kids need to acknowledge when they’re feeling angry, sad, or worried. Parents can help younger children better understand these emotions by reading books together. While reading a book, ask your child what they think a character might be feeling and if they’ve ever felt a similar way.

To help teens identify emotions, parents can ask similar questions when watching a show or movie together. Shows such as Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why and American Vandal, and HBO’s Euphoria cover a wide-range of topics that can stir unpleasant emotions. While some of these themes can be difficult to watch, they can provide parents with an excellent opportunity to have conversations about the feelings these topics can cause.

Teach your child how to evaluate without judging

Just as it’s crucial to teach kids not to judge others, it’s also vital for them to be taught not to judge themselves. Kids (and adults) should evaluate situations without making assumptions and accepting mistakes. It’s also good to have kids ask themselves what advice they’d give to a friend since we’re often less hard on ourselves than we are on others.

Let your children know they’re great now

Parents often say things like, “keep trying and you’ll do great” to help motivate and encourage their kids. While it’s ok to do this sometimes, parents should also let their kids know how great they are now. For example, a parent can say something like, “You’re doing a great job at practicing, and I’m so proud of you.” It’s also important for parents to let their children know that they’re great just for being themselves, not just because they’ve done something well.

Practice your own self-compassion

Kids mimic what they see and hear. If you practice self-compassion, your kids are likely to also start practicing self-compassion. For example, if you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up over it.  Practice and demonstrate the same self-compassion skills that you teach your kids.

About the Author:

Danielle Matthew is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who helps adolescents, adults, couples and families who are in pain due to issues such as anxiety, severe stress, low self-esteem, or depression. With over 20 years of experience, Danielle authored Amazon Parenting Best-Seller, The Empowered Child: How to Help Your Child Cope, Communicate, and Conquer Bullying, and is the Director of The Empowerment Space Bullying Therapy Program in Los Angeles. Featured in Huffington Post and, Danielle has appeared on Fox, ABC and CBS Morning Shows and Mom Talk Radio, and is the expert contributor to Washington Post’s article: “Kids love to ‘roast’ each other. But when does good-natured teasing become bullying?