“But I want to be a kind and generous friend,” my six-year-old daughter says, sniffling from the back seat. Underneath her unruly mop of curly hair, her big brown eyes fill with tears.
“But honey, how did you feel when Tommy insisted on taking your bracelet, even though you said no?”
“Bad!” She begins to cry, clutching her scruffy bunny to her chest.
This morning, I had an opportunity – albeit a painful one – to discuss the idea of “being a good friend to ourselves” with my daughter; to suggest to her that saying “No,” and learning how to stand up for ourselves, can be part of cultivating self-compassion.
It’s a tough ride, this thing we call life, and we all can get a little banged up along the way, adults and kiddos alike. But through the practices of self-compassion, a balanced, kind approach to the experiences we encounter as part of daily existence, we can ease our suffering, respond more skillfully, and feel more connected with ourselves – and others – as a result.
For more self-compassion resources and research from several of the pioneers in the field, check out Dr. Kristin Neff’s website or the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion, which was developed by Dr. Neff and another esteemed self-compassion researcher, Dr. Christopher Germer.