Self-Compassion for Parents
When we talk about self-care, self-compassion, and self-kindness, we don't mean indulgence or rewarding yourself with double-choc ice-cream and a bubble bath.
Practicing self-care is looking after yourself for the long term. Eating well, exercising, getting enough rest, moisturising.
Self-compassion is a mental exercise. It's the opposite to being hard on yourself. According to researcher Kristin Neff, “self-compassion provides an island of calm, a refuge from the stormy seas of endless positive and negative self-judgment.”
There are three main parts to self-compassion:
Take a moment to be aware of what is happening around and within you. Externally, your child may be throwing a public tantrum. Internally, are you feeling helpless, angry, embarrassed, frustrated? Give yourself space to acknowledge what you are feeling.
Recognise that this is not something to take personally, and you are not alone. You're not the first person whose child lay down screaming in Target. What you are going through, other parents have and are going through, and these feelings are a normal part of parenting.
Be understanding and gentle with yourself, and avoid judgement. It's not a reflection of your abilities. You're not a bad parent, or have a bad child. How would you normally show compassion to others? Tell yourself, "you've got this!". Take some perspective and give yourself props for managing a difficult job.
Parents who practice self-compassion have been found to experience less stress and depression. Not only does it improve our life satisfaction, but our children benefit from our calm, and learn from you how to be compassionate to themselves.
You may like to read more about Self-Compassion, and find out where you are on the scale. Visit Dr. Kristin Neff's website here.
Now that you know how to model it, read our blog about teaching self-compassion to children.