The millennial generation has a reputation for entitlement. As a society, we’ve built up their self-esteem and taught them that they deserve the best of everything. In our quest to raise up a new generation of overachievers, we’ve overlooked the importance of teaching children mindfulness and self-compassion.
It’s safe to say that most parents teach their kids to have compassion for their peers, their family, and pets. Why haven’t we thought about teaching our children to have compassion for themselves?
It’s Okay to Make Mistakes
The childhood years are prime time for teaching children how to make life habits and social skills that will last a lifetime. Making mistakes is part of growing up. Teaching our children about self-compassion means that when they hurt someone’s feelings or make mistakes, they need to give themselves the same compassion that we’ve always taught them to give to others.
How do you do it? Teaching self-compassion starts with asking the child to recognize their actions. Then, take it a step further, and ask your child to have empathy and compassion for his or herself in the same way they have compassion for their best friend. Children need to learn to say to themselves, “I messed up, but I’m not a bad kid. I’m sorry for what I did, but I can learn from it, wrap myself up in a hug, and move on.”
Teaching children about mindfulness doesn’t mean we should indulge them. They don’t get to get out of chores or act irresponsibly. If they get caught in a lie, don’t berate them or shame them. Instead, help them make amends and say, “Telling lies breaks trust and it hurts you too. It’s over now. Does it feel good when I hug you and tell you it’s ok? Now is the time to treat yourself the same way.” Tell them what they need to do in a supportive way.
Understanding Teaching Children Mindfulness
Children are likely to have a hard time understanding the concept of self-compassion until they get familiar with it. Be sure to model it for them so they can see what it looks like. Find ways to let them see how you treat yourself when you make a mistake over something.
Find some additional exercises and guided meditations on the website for Dr. Kristin Neff, a leading expert on mindfulness and self-compassion for practice.
We’ve already taught our children that they are worthy and they deserve the best. Forbes magazine predicts that Generation Z will be the generation of builders. It’s prime time to teach them about building up empathy and compassion for themselves in preparation to serve others.
Contact us to learn more tips for teaching children mindfulness We serve families of San Diego County, including Carlsbad, Encinitas, San Marcos, Rancho Santa Fe, Escondido and surrounding cities.