Self Compassion for Parents

by | Oct 1, 2020 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

When was the last time you beat yourself up for the way you acted towards your kids? Parenting is hard enough, but it can be made even harder by being your own worst critic. Maybe there’s a voice in your head saying that you’re a terrible parent because you lost your temper this morning, or you feel like a failure because you’ve missed your child’s basketball game two weekends in a row.

There’s an alternative to all this harsh self-talk. It is self-compassion – treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding as you would a good friend. And it is something that we all need.

However, showing compassion to others often is much easier than being compassionate to ourselves. There is a reason for this. Many of us have picked up messages in our lives that in order to stay disciplined and accomplish our goals, we need to push ourselves with harsh self-criticism. Self-compassion can be mistaken for being lazy and unmotivated, but studies have shown that actually the opposite is true. Self-compassion leads to an increase in intrinsic motivation while also reducing stress levels and improving mental health.

After a difficult day or interaction with your child, instead of being self-critical, try a Self-Compassion Pause and see how it feels:

  1. Find two minutes to pause, and then take a couple of deep breaths
  2. Focus inward and see if you can actually feel the stress or emotional discomfort in your body
  3. If you’d like place your hand on your heart. Touch can stimulate a soothing response.
  4. Acknowledge that you have just been through a difficult situation by saying something like “I’m having a hard time right now”.
  5. Remember that many parents before you have experienced what you are feeling. Remind yourself “Many people feel this way sometimes, it’s not just me”.
  6. Direct feelings of understanding and care towards yourself – just like you would a close friend who is struggling – “May I give myself the kindness I need right now”.
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