Teaching Self-Compassion

We don't often have a habit of saying positive things about ourselves; in fact it's usually easy to be self-critical, especially when we do something wrong. But does being critical actually help us in any way?

When we are self-compassionate we reframe our language to be kind, supportive and understanding when we make mistakes. We have increased resiliency to cope with negative experiences without letting bad feelings overtake us.

When people develop self-compassion, they also become more compassionate toward others.  They are less critical and more accepting of the imperfections of others. Learning self-compassion improves our relationship with others as well as ourselves.

Let's cover some ways to teach self-compassion to your children:

Modelling the behaviour yourself

Practice compassion with yourself. Catch your own self in being harsh to yourself and let the children hear you retract your words. “We all make mistakes, it’s part of being human.”

Shoe on the other foot (change perspective)

Ask your child to pretend what they would say to a friend struggling in the same situation. Is there a difference in how they would treat a friend? Why? How could they treat themselves like a loved one next time?

Validate all emotions

When we are sad and we acknowledge "I am sad", we are being mindful. To help kids accept both positive and negative feelings, empathise and validate their emotions and experience. "I can tell you're sad, it must be upsetting to have torn your shirt." Allow them space to acknowledge their feelings.

Practice the Loving-Kindness Meditation

This meditation practice offers a mantra to help you learn the tools to be kind to yourself. When people learn to accept and love themselves unconditionally, they have the capacity to extend that compassion to others around them. Kim the Echidna shows you how to do it best.

Practice positive self-talk 

Positive self-talk doesn't mean delusions of grandeur! Although we accept our mistakes and the things that went wrong, we don't need to beat ourselves up about it - it doesn't help. Encourage kids to remember there is a next time, and they can learn from their mistakes.


Check our Positive Self-Talk printable for an activity to help prepare your child to be kinder to themselves.