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The Power of Self-Compassion: for parents of anxious teens

Updated: Feb 17

Self-compassion is a powerful tool that is often overlooked by parents in the midst of the overwhelm & worry for their anxious teen. But, by prioritizing our well-being and practicing self-compassion, we can positively impact our teens’ lives as well.

"If you want space to breathe, to silence that inner critic that tells you you're failing & to be able to move forward with more calm & grace - practice self-compassion"

So, let’s dive into what self-compassion is, why it’s important, and how it can make a significant difference in our lives and the lives of our teens.


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So what is Self-Compassion?

At its core, self-compassion is about being kind to ourselves. It involves showing some forgiveness, gentleness, and understanding towards ourselves. We often crave these things from others, but often forget (or resist) extending them to ourselves. Instead, we tend to engage in self-criticism and listen to that nagging inner critic that tells us we’re not good enough or that we’re failing in some way.

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The Importance of Self-Compassion for Parents of Anxious Teens

Self-compassion is important because it gives us the ability to face our messy emotions and actions with acceptance and forgiveness. Instead of berating ourselves for not being perfect or for making mistakes, self-compassion allows us to approach challenges with a sense of enoughness, resilience, and calm. It teaches us to embrace our mistakes as learning opportunities and to understand that no one is perfect. By practicing self-compassion, we create a safe environment where we (and our teens) can thrive.

The Impact of Self-Compassion on Teens

When we practice self-compassion, we send a powerful message to our teens. We show them that it’s okay and natural to experience difficult emotions and make mistakes. We teach them that mistakes are survivable and forgivable.

By modelling self-compassion, we create an environment where our teens feel safe to make mistakes and to learn from them. This reassurance is crucial for their growth and development.


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The Amen Method: A Practical Approach to Self-Compassion

Now that we understand the importance of self-compassion, let’s explore a practical approach to implementing it in our lives. I call it the Amen Method, and it consists of four steps: Awareness, Meaning, Empathy, and Need.

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The first step is to become aware of how we’re feeling in a given moment. This is usually when we’ve been triggered by something or someone. Take a pause and try to name the feeling. For example, if your teen has a meltdown and you feel angry or helpless - acknowledge those emotions.


The next step is to explore the meaning we attach to the situation. What are we making it mean about ourselves? Be careful not to blame or focus on your teen. Instead, focus on yourself. Are you telling yourself that you’re a bad parent or that you don’t have what it takes to help them? Identify the meaning you’re assigning to the situation.


Once you’ve identified the meaning, it’s time to show empathy towards yourself. Imagine speaking to a friend in the same situation. What would you say to them? Use affirming statements to support yourself. Remind yourself that you’re not a bad parent, that it’s a challenging situation, and that you’ll work it out. Use terms of endearment towards yourself if it feels right.


Finally, identify what you need at that moment. Is it support from someone? Time for some headspace? A bath or a walk in nature? Grant yourself whatever it is you need. By giving yourself what you need, you replenish your own cup and can better support your teen. By denying yourself this, you only serve to deplete yourself further.

By practicing self-compassion, you can change how you respond to challenging situations which enables you to approach your teen with more love, authenticity, and understanding.

The Practice of Self-Compassion

Remember, self-compassion is a practice. It may feel strange at first, especially if you’re not used to it. But keep doing it. You will see a difference in how you relate to yourself and also, how you relate to your teen.

With self-compassion, we teach our teens that it’s okay to make mistakes and that they are worthy of self-care and self-love.

The Amen Method above provides a practical approach to implementing self-compassion in our lives, allowing us to respond to challenging situations with kindness and understanding.

As we continue to practice self-compassion, we not only improve our well-being but also positively impact the lives of our teens. By modelling self-compassion, we teach them to be kind to themselves and to approach challenges with resilience and grace as well as create a safe and nurturing environment in which they can thrive.


What next?

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**Disclaimer: This article is for informational & educational purposes and is not intended to replace medical advice. The use of this information is at the reader's discretion and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a physician, psychotherapist or other qualified professional, diagnosis or treatment

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