How often have you felt that you are falling short of what’s needed? How often have you felt worthless? How often have you felt the need to put in more effort into something? We are often hard on ourselves. While we can easily forgive others for their mistakes, we find it difficult to forgive ourselves when we make similar mistakes. And our children learn the most by observing us. They subconsciously pick up the self-critical attitude they see in us. So, here are a few ways you can model self-compassion, so that your children watch and learn.
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Give Time to Yourself
Children who see their parents working day in and day out to please others might grow up into adults who cannot make themselves the first priority. You don’t have to teach your kids to be selfish. But you want them to learn that it is okay to have some time for yourself. And it is a proven fact that when you give yourself time to be happy and at peace, you become better at keeping others around you happy, too. So, while you rush around to meet your family’s needs, consciously take some time out to relax. Let the children see that you value your family, but that you value yourself, too.
Forgive yourself for the mistakes
Did you forget to get the groceries? Did you spill milk on the kitchen counter? Did you miss a deadline at work? We all make mistakes, and it is fine. Apologizing for your mistakes where it is due, is a good practice. But don’t beat yourself up over it. Your children will learn the same. It will also encourage them to come to you and talk about the mistake they committed.
Put your feelings into words
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Negative feeling are a part and parcel of life. We often feel frustrated, drained, worthless, depressed, furious, ashamed, etc. Our kids also go through these feelings in everyday life at their own level. We easily accept positive emotions, but we avoid vocalizing our negative emotions. We prefer to deny them and let them eat at us from within. Children can interpret this as associating having negative feelings with something that should be hidden. It always helps to put your feelings into words and talking about them. When children observe you doing this, they will learn to do so themselves too. It goes a long way in making it easier for them to come to terms with their emotions.
Keep yourself first, at least sometimes.
We mothers often save the best things for our families while the second best is for us. So, the best chicken pieces are for the kids, the best bigger scoop of ice-cream is for everybody else, so on and so forth. This attitude needs to change. For one, if you don’t value yourself, after a point, your kids won’t, too. Secondly, this attitude of everybody else coming first in the list of priorities is self-damaging. Teaching kids family values and the virtues of sharing and sacrifice are good things. But, it is perfectly okay to recognize your own needs, too!
Say "No" when you are uncomfortable with something.
How often do you find it difficult to say ‘No’ to someone? When we avoid saying ‘No’ just to please everybody, kids associate saying ‘No’ as a bad habit. But, if you want your children to grow up to be confident, independent adults, they need to understand that it is alright to say no to something. And how do you teach this to them? By acknowledging that you are uncomfortable with a situation and saying ‘No’ yourself.
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These tips not just help you impart good life lessons to your children, they help you become a better person, too. Mummies, your contribution to your family and especially in raising your children, is invaluable. You deserve to cut yourself a little slack and enjoy some self-compassion. The children learning you practice this positive behavior is definitely a plus. So, the next time you are self-critical, take a deep breath and switch to self-compassion instead!
Show yourself some love.