Help Me Grow | United Way of Utah County

3 Ways to Practice Self-Compassion as Parents

Parents often feel as though they do not have any time to practice any kind of self-care. Although parents know that self-care is important, they may often feel that they aren’t being a good parent if they take any time for themselves. They also may feel that with all of their parenting responsibilities, they simply do not have the time to practice any kind of self-care. The demands of raising children can keep parents thinking it difficult to imagine spending even a few minutes focusing on their own needs.

However, practicing self-compassion, or learning to treat yourself with the same kindness and consideration that you would treat a friend, is important for parents. Nothing seems to go as planned when caring and nurturing for our children, but learning how to practice self-compassion will allow you to be well-equipped to handle all of the demands parenting may bring.

What is Self-Compassion?

As Dr. Kristin Neff, a leading researcher in self-compassion says, there are three core components of self-compassion: kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. As you learn to develop these core components of self-compassion, you will better be able to take care of yourself, and in turn, become happier and better able to take care of others.

Treating Ourselves With Kindness

Being kind to ourselves as parents is important. Often, if we fail to meet our own standards when parenting, we are more harsh and cruel to ourselves than we ever would be to any of our friends or family members. Treating ourselves with kindness allows us to treat ourselves as a friend would treat us in times of difficulty. When we treat ourselves with kindness, we are able to be happier and better care for our children. Instead of focusing on our shortcomings, we can focus on caring for our children.

Recognizing Our Common Humanity

When we experience difficulties as parents, we often view it as abnormal. We don’t realize that other parents experience the same difficulties and make mistakes as well. When we do something wrong, it is helpful to take a step back and realize that this struggle or difficulty that we are experiencing does not just happen to us. We are all humans, and we all make mistakes and have struggles. Understanding that you are not alone in your struggle can help you focus on caring for your children, rather than on your own perceived shortcomings.

Being Mindful

Perhaps the most important component of self-compassion is mindfulness. When being mindful we are able to recognize that we are struggling and going through a difficult time, whether that be because of parenting, or because of some other cause. We often put too much stress on ourselves because of our mistakes or struggles. When we are able to notice and be aware of how painful and counterproductive our thoughts can be, we are able to take another approach and be kind and supportive to ourselves. This, in turn, helps us to focus on caring for our children, rather than on our own shortcomings.

Although you may feel like you do not have any time to practice any kind of self-care, taking small moments throughout the day to check in with your emotions and be self-compassionate is crucial to your individual happiness. Feeling happier and more optimistic will in turn help you manage the demands of raising and caring for your children. As we practice self-compassion as parents, we will be better equipped to handle all of the demands that parenting may bring.

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