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Self-compassion for children

Self-compassion is being kind to yourself even when things don’t happen the way you expect. It’s being aware of your feelings and treating yourself with the same warmth, care and understanding you’d give to someone you care about.

When children learn to treat themselves with self-compassion, they:

  • are happier
  • have more confidence and self-esteem
  • are more likely to try new things or try again when things don’t work out the first time
  • have more resilience, so they can ‘bounce back’ during or after difficult times.

Building self-compassion in children: three steps:

Step 1
Pause and notice 
when your child is angry, frustrated or disappointed because things haven’t gone the way they wanted and they’re being hard on themselves.

Step 2
Let your child know that it’s OK to find things hard and that everyone makes mistakes. It’s also OK to feel sad, angry, disappointed or frustrated – but it isn’t OK to say mean things about yourself.

For example, you could say, ‘I’d be frustrated too if I didn’t score a goal. But that doesn’t make you a loser’.

Step 3
Encourage your child to say something kind to themselves. It can help to ask your child what they might say to a friend who made a mistake or who’s going through a tough time.

  • ‘I’ve done my best.’
  • ‘Everyone finds learning new things hard.’
  • ‘We all make mistakes sometimes.’
  • ‘It’s OK that I can’t do this yet. I’ll try again next time.’
  • ‘I’m a good and lovable person.’

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