Teaching Compassion Starts with YOU

Did you know that compassion links parents’ and children’s well-being?

When parents have compassion for themselves, they are able to cope with stress in more healthy ways, buffering their children from stress contagion. Self-compassion also dampens the impact of insecure attachments in parent's own childhoods, which can sometimes get in the way of parenting our best. We also know intuitively that when we are kind to ourselves, it is easier to be kind towards others. And when we are fuelled by self-compassion, we are more likely to experience emotional warmth with our kids - which helps them grow up to be compassionate - and can teach our children self-compassion by leading by example.

Clearly, as parents and caregivers, a little bit of self-love can go a long way towards helping our children become compassionate adults.

According to Kristin Neff, Professor of Human Development and Culture at the University of Texas at Austin, modelling self compassion for your children by truly living it not only sets the tone for how they will treat themselves during difficulties or disappointments throughout their lives, but is also integral in order for you to sustain compassion for your children without burning out.

Self-Compassion Practice #1: One exercise Neff recommends for adults and children to connect to self-compassion is to practice a safe and supportive physical posture, such as placing your hands over your heart, cupping your face in your hands, placing your hands on your tummy, or a self-hug.

Self-Compassion Practice #2: Involving your child in healthy stress management practices not only benefits your stress level (and your child's), it also sends the powerful message that taking care of our feelings is essential. Take a 5 minute time-out when you are feeling stressed and use an app, such as The Breathing App, MindShift, Headspace, or one of many others to help you find your calm. If you are with your children, explain what you are doing and invite them to join you. Involving your child in self-care builds a family culture of self-compassion, and equips your child with the tools he needs to be able to take care of himself emotionally at a developmentally appropriate level.

Self-Compassion Practice #3: A joyful heart is a full heart, and a full heart is one that can give readily to others. So, gather your children close and spark some joy! Take a deep breath and find yourself in a moment of joy with your child. Savor the feeling - where do you feel it in your body? What senses are being sparked - does the air smell like rain, or freshly baked cookies, or your baby's sweet shampoo? Can you hear birdsong, or your child's voice, or the clambering of tiny feet running up the stairs? Savoring this moment of joy with your child can help you feel more fulfilled, and for longer. Emotional fulfillment is another key dimension of feeling emotional warmth for your child, which is linked to children's ability to feel compassion as adults.

Article Credit: https://heartmindonline.org/resources/teaching-com...