Compassion and Aware Parenting


In Aware Parenting, we don’t expect ourselves to be perfect parents and we don’t expect our children to be perfect either. This requires us to be compassionate with ourselves and with our kids. So it's helpful to ask ourselves - How can I be most compassionate right now? To my child? And to myself? Learning to offer this to ourselves and our children is not easy and it's an on-going learning process. As most of us did not receive compassionate responses as children, it can be hard to know what self compassion looks like.

Self compassion means showing kindness to ourselves. We are being compassionate with ourselves when:

  • We acknowledge our struggles and take responsibility for actions without beating ourselves up - that just creates shame and disconnection.
  • We talk to ourselves like we would to a beloved best friend.
  • Instead of criticising ourselves for our shortcomings and failings, we are kind and understanding and make time to deliberate remind ourselves that there is no such thing as perfect.
  • We set loving limits on what we are and are not willing for from others towards us and from ourselves towards us too.
  • We prioritise getting support and listening to our feelings.
  • We take time to see what our unmet needs are and then find small ways to meet them.
  • If we haven’t yet learned to identify our needs, we start to become more familiar with needs and start by doing one loving thing for ourselves each day.
  • We remind ourselves that we are worthy even when we mess up. We don’t beat ourselves up when we make mistakes coz that feels painful and we don’t want to model that to our kids either.
  • We offer ourselves soft, gentle self-acceptance as we learn new ways and unlearn old patterns.
  • We make time to rest when we need it.
  • We understand that some days are really tough and we learn to let go of yesterday and remember that tomorrow is a new day.
  • We reflect on our struggles and give ourselves some love.
  • We explore our thoughts and enquire if they are really true.
  • We celebrate that we are doing the best we can.
  • We make time to do things that restore us like earthing, yoga, beach walks, breathing, meditation, a cup of tea barefoot in the sunshine.
  • We offer ourselves understanding and kindness and acceptance of all our parts.
  • We forgive ourselves for the all the ways we had to behave in the past in order to survive.
  • We become more aware and loving about our programming, our imprints, our conditioning, who we were then and who we are now.
  • We give ourselves tender acceptance of own unique struggles and challenges.
  • We forgive ourselves for the inevitable painful moments when we act harshly to our children.
  • We appreciate that we are trying to offer our children what we didn’t receive and haven’t yet learnt to offer ourselves and understand that it's inevitable that parenting will be an imperfect bumpy ride.
  • We are kind to ourselves when we are having a tough time, when we fail and when we notice something we might not like about ourselves.
  • We don’t ignore our pain with a stoic mentality, or coerce ourselves to “push through”. Instead we pause, we acknowledge that this is really difficult right now and we ask how can we comfort and care for ourselves right now?
  • We try to embrace our messy parts as we get support to re-parent ourselves.
  • We become aware of the importance of nurturing our own souls, taking care of our own needs, and not putting ourselves last.
  • We try to view all of ourselves, including our imperfections, without judgement but instead with unconditional love.
  • When we are non-judgemental to ourselves, we are not too hard on ourselves.
  • We slowly become our own best friends, who love ourselves more and become more tolerant and accepting of ourselves and of others.
  • We try to model this self compassion to our children.
  • We accept that there are times when we can't listen to our children's feelings and don't have capacity to play and that's ok.
  • We learn to trust ourselves and our children.
  • We accept both the wonder and imperfection of our humanity.
  • And most important of all, we reach out for help when we need it.

Compassion for our children means:

- Seeing their goodness and appreciating that they are, by nature, loving, beautiful, unique souls.

- Understanding that their challenging behaviour is a sign that they are struggling and need support, not that they are deliberately making our life harder or manipulating us or being "bad".

- Offering them our understanding, love and empathy when they are upset and acknowledging their struggles without trying to fix it or distract them or make it all go away.

- Sharing kind, loving words as much as we can, especially when they behave in ways we find challenging.

- Bringing play, laughter and fun to their lives when we have capacity to do so.

- Rewinding and repairing when we react to them in ways that don’t align with our values.

- Responding with softness, connection and love when they make mistakes, instead of anger, blame or punishments.

- Offering them unconditional love as much as we can, and checking that they are feeling that our love is unconditional because our responses to them are loving, regardless of their behaviour and especially when they make mistakes.

The more we offer ourselves compassion, the easier it is to offer it to our children. In fact we can’t offer it to them unless we are also receiving it. And the more we can then respond to our children in these ways, the more that this will become their internal dialogue and they will grow up to be adults who are full of compassion for themselves and for others.

It can be really hard to turn down the volume on that critical, judgmental, harsh voice in our heads that jumps out at our children too at times when we are stressed and overwhelmed. Often we need to reach out for support, to receive compassion from our listening partner or from an Aware Parenting instructor to learn how to start speaking this language ourselves. Can you find a way to receive more compassion in your life? How might you offer compassion to yourself and your child today? I send you so much love.

Your parenting coach and mentor

About Joss Goulden

I am a trauma-informed Parenting Coach and a Level 2 Aware Parenting instructor, certified with the Aware Parenting Institute. I have been practising Aware Parenting for 17 years and am the mother of 2 children, aged 19 and 17.

I am also passionate about Homeschooling and Natural Learning. I have homeschooled my 2 children and I have been supporting families with Homeschooling and Natural Learning for many years.

Aware Parenting with Joss

I am so passionate about sharing this beautiful approach with parents. I believe that Aware Parenting is THE solution for so many of the challenges facing the world. - Joss Goulden, Aware Parenting Instructor
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