On The Motherkind Podcast Ep27, the world renowned psychologist Dr Kristin Neff, shared the one tool that transformed her parenting, and can help you transform yours too.

Want to feel happier? Less stressed? More optimistic? Better connected to your children?

This one tool is proven to make you stronger, reduce anxiety, help you make changes and even make you happier.

This one tool is self-compassion.

Self-compassion is, “treating yourself with the same kindness, care and understanding when you’re struggling that you would show a friend”. Unfortunately the way we treat ourselves is often radically different to how we treat those we care about.

It is not just what you face in life that determines how you cope, but “how do you relate to yourself when times are difficult” Kristin explains an inner enemy or critical voice can only undermine and make life harder for us, while an inner ally makes you stronger.

If you can learn to be truly self-compassionate you will transform your parenting.

Far from being selfish, being kinder to yourself will have a hugely beneficial impact on your parenting and on your children. It will help you deal with the stress that comes with the day to day reality of being a Mum.

“As human beings our minds are designed to resonate with each other” and this happens at a “pre-verbal” level, mirror neurons allow us to feel what other people are feeling. These mirror neurons mean that in a difficult situation with your child i.e. in the midst of a tantrum, even if you’re trying your absolute hardest to be calm outwardly, but inwardly feel angry or frustrated, your child will pick up on your true feelings (and probably mirror your true feelings back to you - so more anger and frustration). This is exactly like when you come home and you can immediately tell your partner has had a bad day no matter how hard they try to hide it.

What would completely change this scenario would be practising self-compassion and soothing ourselves, through caring language and thoughts to ourselves. Simply recognising that we’re in an overwhelming situation in that moment can help.

But isn’t it selfish or narcissistic even to be kind to ourselves all the time?

Far from being selfish, self-compassion works so that “the more we’re kind to ourselves, the more other people will benefit”, Kristin says this is not only because we’ve got more resources, but because people including our children are interacting with a more peaceful and loving person.

For the practical ways of doing this and to hear more of Dr Kristin Neff’s incredible insights on self-compassion listen to the podcast.

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