Teaching compassion helps our kids develop into kind, caring individuals. However, compassion is not just about how we treat others, it’s also about how we treat ourselves.
Self-compassion is the kindness and understanding we give to ourselves. While it’s great to give to others, to grow into healthy, confident adults, kids must be able to practice self-compassion. When teaching your kids about compassion, make sure to help them practice self-compassion.
Self-Compassion Activities for Kids
Here are some easy ways to cultivate self-compassion in kids:
What are some positive things you can say/think to motivate yourself?
Negative self-talk is the antithesis of self-compassion. Help your child practice self-compassion by asking them to think of positive things that motivate them. For young kids, this could be challenging, so serve as a role model. For example, you could talk about how doing your very best is what motivates you at work.
Look in the mirror and say three things you like about yourself
Even kids deal with criticizing themselves. Facilitate positive self-talk by asking them to affirm the good qualities they have. Ideally, help to shift their focus from physical attributes to the qualities they bring. Again, if your child struggles with this, you can go first, and you can also share something you love about them to get them started.
Respect the statement: I like myself.
Self-loathing is very hard to reverse, so start first by helping your children respect themselves. Explain the importance of valuing yourself, and remind them we are not all perfect. Help them understand that all people feel down and wish to change some things, but that we are all unique and must respect ourselves first.
Say “I did my best” when you make a mistake.
A huge part of self-compassion is understanding. Some people gladly give others the benefit of the doubt but don’t do the same for themselves. Focus on attitude and effort, not the outcome. If your child makes a mistake, remind them that the most important thing is to try their best. Make sure to uphold this standard for school, sports, etc.
The activities above are excellent ways for you and your child to both improve self-compassion. It’s much easier for us to show compassion to others when we first do so for ourselves. Kids who develop a strong sense of self-compassion will be able to handle obstacles and persevere to their goals.