In the practice of self-compassion we treat ourselves with the same care and kindness we would show a treasured friend. Dr. Kristin Neff, trainer and researcher on self-compassion, encourages parents to differentiate between self-esteem and self compassion. Self-esteem, she suggests, is based on performance – judging yourself as a “good parent” or a “bad parent”. Self-compassion encourages parents to experience their mistakes and imperfections without criticism or harsh judgment. Anyone who has watched the “I just lost it with my kid ” moment replay in their head knows how bad it can feel to “fail”. Acknowledging our mistakes and imperfections arouses difficult emotions – sadness fear, shame, guilt, anger and confusion. The practice of self-compassion is effective because we feel these painful emotions. Instead of judging ourselves, blaming others, resisting the emotions or denying the distress we feel, self-compassion teaches us to recognize our own imperfections with the awareness that we are not alone: All parents make mistakes; all parents experience negative emotions. The next step is to calm those difficult emotions without judging them and comfort ourselves with the same kindess we would show toward someone we love. It turns out that when we practice these steps, we not only become more resilient in the face of distress, we also become kinder, more compassionate and accepting toward others. Try out a self-compassion practice and see for yourself at
If you want to see how mindfulness works with kids and do a fun acitivy to help calm angry feelings, check out Cultivating Mindfulness from “Inside Out” below.