Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

8 ways to foster self compassion. Or, how not to be, or raise, an asshole.

Almost every time that we go to our neighborhood playground, we see the same little girl. She must be about seven years old, and she’s always there alone. I’ll refrain from having an opinion on her being there alone all the time, because this is not a post about that, but one about self compassion and bullying. This little girl is a bully. She is mean and she’s nasty. She calls kids “dummy,” “stupid,” and  “dum-dum head.” She makes them cry.

On the day she said that Tucker was weird, I confronted her, and told her that it’s not nice to call other kids names. I asked her whether it would hurt her feelings if somebody said that she was weird. She agreed that it would, and I felt like I’d accomplished something Good.

This kid is not weird. He is FUN.

This kid is not weird. He is FUN.

But her bullying tendencies have stayed with me. Haunted me. Because if there’s one thing I will never compromise on, it’s in my belief that we are all important. Whether your child scores the winning touchdown at his football game, or is the one who needs earphones in order to sit through that game, they are connected.

They are special, and unique. They are loved, and they love. They have the power to change perception. Their’s, and other people’s.

They have the power to change everything. All children do. All people do.

Next fall, Tucker will, for the first time in his classroom history, be with more typical children than with kids who have special needs. Will they bully him? I recently wrote about hoping that school won’t crush my special needs little boy. In that post, I shared how a work friend has a special needs son and had a less-than desirable grade-school experience. Her words “there’s no fixing low self-esteem” bothered me. They stayed with me and made me want to build the Best Special Needs School in the World. I will never compromise on not wanting Tucker to feel loved and accepted for exactly who he is, regardless of his abilities, or struggles.

Raising a son who will likely need special education support throughout his school career is terrifying. Raising a son who may one day come home from class feeling dumb, and less-than, and letting his feelings of inadequacy make him give up is heart-breaking. Wanting him to have good self esteem felt natural to me. I was raised in a culture where self esteem has great import, and honestly, I never thought much about the meaning behind it until the lovely and talented Yvonne Spence, of Inquiring Parent and author of Drawings in Sand (an amazing book by the way) commented on my post. She wrote:

“What the focus on raising self-esteem has done is to make people think the way to feel good about ourselves is to be above average. Obviously, we can’t all be above average. It’s impossible. So instead, it’s much more helpful to teach compassion,including self-compassion. Then we can feel okay even when we don’t succeed. Self-esteem emphasises differences, so creates a sense of separation; self-compassion emphasises commonality and fosters connection.”

In her post Self Compassion – Does it Work?, Yvonne discusses Kristin Neff’s book Self Compassion, and how it’s helped her to learn kindness and empathy for others and for herself. She wrote:

“It seems hard to believe now, but when I read Self Compassion a little over a year ago, I didn’t particularly like the idea that we’re all in this together, or that I am no different to anybody else. I still carried remnants of that belief that the way to succeed, the way to be happy, was to stand out, to be special.”

All this time, I thought self esteem was a good thing. It’s not, though, when you look at it through the lens of self esteem being dependent upon being different from, and better than one’s peers. I know that Tucker already struggles with the “I can’t do it” mentality, and it makes me profoundly sad.  Already, I have heard my almost 5-year old say “I can’t,” and “it’s too hard” when it has come to pronouncing a word, or forgetting the number nine during a counting game. Sarah from Left Brain Buddha also wrote about self compassion recently (and regularly writes about its sister, mindfulness). She said:

“Our self-esteem is often tied to our accomplishments {getting an A on a paper, cooking a healthy, balanced meal, or exercising five times a week}. But if this is what we want to give the medal for, we can set ourselves up for self-criticism when we don’t accomplish those goals.”

As did Deb, from Urban Moo Cow in her powerful Our Land post about body image:

“In my land, everyone would practice self-compassion. We would all accept our basic humanity — our utter imperfection — with equanimity and kindness. Eating a bowl of ice cream would no longer raise the specter of self-loathing. Nor would being fired from a job. Each event would be treated as it is: a moment in time, a mere transgression worth overcoming.”

Perhaps I’m late coming on board in realizing that there is a profound difference between self esteem and self compassion, but I’m here now, and plan to no longer strive for self esteem for my son or for myself, but for self compassion for each of us. 8 ways to foster self compassion. Foster self compassion. Or, how not to be or raise an asshole..png

To the goal of helping all of us – from the little bully at the playground, to society in general, and to myself and to my son – more easily remember the import of self compassion, here are some ideas on practicing it ourselves. 8 ways to foster self compassion. Or, how not to be, or raise, an asshole.

    1. Treat ourselves the way we’d like people to treat those most dear to us.
    2. Remember, always, that we’re in this crazy, beautiful, scary, frustrating, rewarding life together. We are all connected.
    3. Recognize when we are in the moment. It’s not always easy to examine why we don’t want to get on the floor and play with trucks, but it’s kinder to acknowledge how we feel (annoyed, busy, like we should be doing something else). I’ve found that once I recognize why I don’t want to play, I am able to realize how important the play is to my relationship with my son, and enjoy it more.
    4. Focus on what really matters (hint: it’s not the size of your pants or the label on your handbag). Focus on the humanity. The beauty. The pain. Focus on the friendship and the laughter. Focus on the fact that being different does not mean being less.
    5. We are all good enough. No matter what comes easily to us, and no matter what we struggle with.
    6. Have fun with your kids. Have fun with yourself. Laugh, dance, and celebrate.
    7. Children’s curiosity over differences in skin color, hair color, and ability should be handled with gentle care. It’s okay that Tucker recently asked one of his sitters “Why are you brown?” There’s nothing wrong with noticing that somebody uses a chair to get around, or that a friend’s eye color is different from your own.  We are all different, unique, and wonderful. We are all important. And we all feel as if we’re not, much too often.
    8. Everybody is close-enough to being the same on the inside.

   Peeps the sameHere’s to all of us remembering that we’re more the same than different, that we’re in this together, and to be kind to others and to ourselves. Here’s to me learning to accept the bully on the playground, and to me going out of my way to be kind and compassionate to her the next time I see her. Here’s to Tucker learning to do the same. Here’s to Tucker learning that whether he’s the quarterback, or the boy who chooses to not attend the game because it’s just TooLoud, that it’s okay. That he’s okay. That we all, in our own ways, are okay. More than okay. Connected. Beautiful. Important. Here. Here, together. Do you have tips for self compassion that I missed? Please share them in the comments if so. For ideas today, in addition to gaining perspective from the fabulous writers mentioned here today, I watched this video by Kristin Neff at  Finish the Sentence FridayThis has been a Finish the Sentence Friday Post.  We will be taking the entire month of July off from FTSF. The next sentence will be:  The most amazing thing my body has done is… (co-host Ruchira Khanna) on August 8, 2014. Your hosts: Janine: Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic Kate: Can I get another bottle of whine? Stephanie: Mommy, for Real Me (Kristi): Finding Ninee Today’s sentence is “The one thing I’ll never compromise on is… ” submited by Tarana Siddiqi of Sand in My Toes. Please show her some extra love. 

  • Janine Huldie - First off, we just recently ran into a nasty little bullying girl at our own playground and had to explain to Emma that some kids are just plain not nice and to not let it get to her ever. Sad that at almost 5 years old that I had to do this, but I truly love your advice here and wish more parents would be on board teaching these simple lessons, because it sure would save our wonderful kids a lifetime of heartache or even disappointment. So, all I can say here is well said and thank you my friend for putting it bluntly and perfectly!June 26, 2014 – 10:06 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks so much Janine, for saying that you’ve experienced this, too. It’s so hard. On one hand, I know this kid needs help and love but on the other I’m like “WHERE THE EFF IS HER MOM???” But you know. I try not to judge and all that. Here’s to our babies turning five OMG FIVE.June 27, 2014 – 10:16 pmReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - One of the things related to self-compassion I try to teach my son is that meanness does not form in a vacuum. Where did that little girl learn to be mean? Who is mean to her so that she replicates the behavior to others?

    In asking those questions, it gives us another perspective to get at root causes of his own meanness, crankiness, unkindnesses when they come up. We treat it like part of the human condition that he wants to control.June 26, 2014 – 10:17 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - YES to meanness not forming in a vacuum. I try so hard to be empathetic to the little girl on the playground as well, but obviously my first response is to the kids she makes feel badly. This whole raising humans thing is hard! Here’s to letting all of the kids know they matter. No matter what.June 27, 2014 – 10:30 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily - The notion of self-compassion is so so important and seeing it compared to self-esteem, it’s eye-opening to me. It’s so true that self-esteem emphasizes differences while self-compassion does not. This was truly enlightening – thank you for teaching me something new!June 26, 2014 – 10:18 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Emily, I’m still trying to wrap my dumb head around it but it makes sense. I mean, if self esteem fosters being better than, my little Tucker might never win. I mean maybe he will, but I’d rather have him feel self compassion and love for himself. Which is hard, because do I do that? No. I don’t. But, I really want to….June 27, 2014 – 10:32 pmReplyCancel

  • Kat - Most of the things that you touch on here seem like such common sense but so many people just don’t get it. Thank you for giving us all something to think about and a message to spread.June 26, 2014 – 10:20 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I think you’re right that so many people don’t get it. I think it’s hard to get, even when we’re trying to, I guess. Thank you so much for your comment.June 27, 2014 – 10:38 pmReplyCancel

  • Mike - Fantastic post and you up the ante to perfecting your message every time, Kristi. We are so proud of you! You said,”All this time, I thought self esteem was a good thing. It’s not, though, when you look at it through the lens of self esteem being dependent upon being different from, and better than one’s peers.” In that context I agree. But, as you came back to #5 on your list you confirm MY belief and my opinion that self-esteem is very good thing and that it is invaluable. On another note about this post, sometimes we are so close to a situation in our lives that we don’t see a lot of what others may see. From seat in front of the computer 3000 miles away from you guys over the past year it’s absolutely AMAZING to see, hear and read about Tucker’s phenomenal growth and progress! He’s such my little rock star and always will be! The part about the next school year had me absolutely BEAMING regarding that progress. As far as bullying goes…I have ZERO, ZERO TOLERANCE. I was bullied horrifically as a kid…big time. If Tucker has any problems with that please know that there is a man and his Golden Retriever who will gladly deal harshly with any bully of Tucker’s. Love you guys immensely 🙂June 26, 2014 – 10:31 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Mike. You have such a beautiful heart. You inspire ME so much. Your dedication and love of Phoenix is amazing and beautiful and awe-inspiring. When it comes to #5, I think it’s okay for all of us to know that we are already perfectly imperfect. We’re all fucked up, and messed up, damaged, and broken. We are also the best of the best, and the most powerful of the powerful, because we are here. We feel. We believe. We matter, and we make a difference because we say FUCKYOU to growing up being treated like shit. But we also know that we’re more alike than different. We know that we’re connected. Because that’s the shit that gets us through this crazy painful life called life. And would we trade it? Nah.
      thank you huge big huge for getting it and for your love of Tucker and our family. We feel the same for you guys. Tell PDawg to make you give him some ice cream tonight. He deserves it.June 27, 2014 – 10:43 pmReplyCancel

  • Anna Fitfunner - I see self-compassion showing up in a lot of belief systems, particularly Zen Buddhism. Your thoughts suggested the following story (not original to me): There is a Buddhist teaching that says that when you get hurt by an arrow, that is pain. The arrow hitting your arm, it hurts. It is pain. However, there is a second arrow, which is your reaction to the arrow. Getting angry and planning revenge against the person that shot the arrow at you, that is beyond pain, that is suffering. Self-compassion means realizing that it is not necessary for you to suffer.June 26, 2014 – 10:48 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Wow, Anna, I love that. It’s so true, isn’t it? I mean, that we so quickly put our pain on those who caused it, but in reality, it’s our choice to feel it and to feel like it’s about them, rather than about us. I’ll be thinking about that a lot, because well, wow. And thank youJune 27, 2014 – 10:51 pmReplyCancel

  • Chris Carter - I am pulling Cass from public school this year… and this has much to do with it. in addition to the sex, drugs, and bullying that now 11 year olds do. Sick, I know.

    Self compassion can be the connected to others compassion… it all intertwines as the golden rule. And there is far too much separation in this world- built with barriers of countless kinds. Far too much hate and vulger cruelty…

    We’ve lost our morals, our values in this society. Thank God there are precious strings that are fluent in love. I am clinging to them. And you.

    KRISTI! (I couldn’t just say that- how could I? Maybe next time!)June 26, 2014 – 11:03 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Oh Chris. Really? I’m so sorry (and glad)?) because not sure how I feel about public vs. private right now. Tucker got so much help in public, but it was here, and with preschool autism classroom, and with non cat and I know it’s not the same everywhere…. We have lost morals. But in so many ways, we haven’t, you know? I mean there are all of us wanting them and wanting compassion for our children. Maybe this- the blogging and the writing and the scared hopefulness is what It Is About? Maybe. I hope.June 27, 2014 – 11:16 pmReplyCancel

  • Tamara - I’m terrified of kindergarten and I see parents going through middle school and high school and I honestly don’t know how I will survive to that point.
    Especially when I read Chris’ post and others. Those kids are out there. My kids are not those kids. Yet. However I realize every day how important it is that they aren’t.
    Scarlet gets empathy and kindness pretty well.
    Des hits the cat, but he’ll learn.June 26, 2014 – 11:24 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - My sweet Tamara, I am so unbelievably terrified of kindergarten that I don’t even know how to talk about or write about it. Maybe, this is an attempt, I dunno. Des will get over hitting the cat. Tucker wants to “freeze” me with crackle because stupid awesome Lego movie…June 27, 2014 – 11:32 pmReplyCancel

  • MyTwice BakedPotato - I wish that I could say that school will be filled with kindness, but because you know our situation…you will know why I can’t.
    My experience is that some of the biggest bullies are grown ups that should know better, but they are themselves inflexible in their thinking and acceptance of others. We go through waves of hearing a lot of self doubt, that is hard. I try and cushion the falls as much as I can and honestly do worry about the day when he turns to others to fill that role. I hope by then he has grown to love and appreciate all of his giftsJune 27, 2014 – 2:19 amReplyCancel

  • karen - I remember a little bully in the mall play area…his fatehr’s way to deal with him was to push his head or grunt at him…no wonder the kid was the way he is.
    I love this post, I have to start teaching Dino to understand why kids act the way they do…they learned it somewhere…just like he learned to be kind, use manners, and give hugs.
    I fear that he too will be bullied in Kindergarten, all it takes is one kid to pick out a victim…but I also hope that with Dino being friends with everyone he meets that he will befriend the victims and stand up for them perhaps.June 27, 2014 – 5:41 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I hate those stories, Karen and they are all too common. Too many parents and people are just here for themselves – me too at times, which is why I want to remember and remember hard that there’s other stuff going on… Here’s to our kids befriending victims and not being them…June 27, 2014 – 11:44 pmReplyCancel

  • Yvonne - Kristi, this post is just brilliant. I feel honoured to be included in it. I love your quotes from Sarah and Deb too.

    And those 8 ways to foster self-compassion! Yes to every one of them. I particularly like the first one, third and seventh. First because it is such a great way to explain to someone what self-compassion looks like. Third because, yes, yes – allow your feelings first and then so often it is easier to drop our resistance. And the seventh is something that doesn’t often get discussed, but is really important – so often I’ve seen adults react with confusion when kids point out that someone has a different colour of skin or is different in some way. But the children aren’t judging, they are curious and there’s a world of difference. It’s utterly okay to realise that we are all different and yet, as you also point out, underneath we are far closer than we often realise.
    You’ve got me thinking about self-esteem again (as did Mike’s comment) and I guess that instead of high, what we want is healthy self-esteem, where we are able to see ourselves realistically, feel okay as we are, and yet also be willing to change when it’s for our best interests. Self-compassion fosters that.

    I’ve already said this, but really I just love how you’ve included quotes from other bloggers – I love that what we’ve written can spark something in you, that then sparks something in someone else, and in me again. It’s so wonderful to have this amazing tool, the internet, to connect like this and create mutual support and growth!
    Thank you for this beautiful post, my friend!June 27, 2014 – 5:59 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Yvonne,
      Thank you so much for your original comment. Although I’d read about self compassion, it was not until your comment that I really started thinking about how different it is from self esteem and I thank you for helping me become more aware. Thanks for agreeing to allow me to use your quotes, too – they are perfect. And yeah, the number seven one is a big one. It can be uncomfortable to know what to say to kids when they notice a difference, but by getting weird and whispery about it, we’re really teaching them that there’s something wrong with noticing. So I try to directly acknowledge it and do so without weirdness or a big reaction. Hopefully I’m doing it right! And thanks again!June 28, 2014 – 10:24 amReplyCancel

  • Lizzi Rogers - The children who are bullies are often the kids who need more love, not less, and it’s horrible to see them isolating themselves because they don’t know how to react appropriately to the crap going on in their lives. Sometimes they’re just assholes, too, and that sucks, but often it comes from a place of hurt. Same with angry kids. I know kids like that little girl and I’m glad you did a good thing.

    I love this post. I love how much you care and how mindful you are, and how determined to somehow change the world so that Tucker grows up knowing his own worth and that his value is intrinsic, not based on transient ‘of the moment’ things. You are fierce and wonderful and your drive for this notion is incredible 🙂

    I’m glad I read this. I find #2 far easier than #1, but okay. I’ll try.June 27, 2014 – 6:48 amReplyCancel

  • Tarana - You’re not alone in your fears about school. I find school to be a stifling influence, anyway. It’s sad to see kids turning into bullies because they are just starved of love and affection at home.June 27, 2014 – 7:32 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Tarana, school is scary. And yeah, poor kids… all kids need tons of love and affection.June 28, 2014 – 10:25 amReplyCancel

  • Misty - awesome post. i’d never thought about the relationship esteem has with success, but it makes a lot of sense. patty is already having worries that 2nd grade will be too hard for her, we saw this in 1st grade too. i try to always remember that even the regular kids have things they struggle with in school, i’m guessing there are only a handful of kids who find that all of school comes easily to them? there’s no one size fits all reaction, we just tell patty to do her best and we will love her no matter what! as for that playground bully, you have a great opportunity to be a positive role model in her life. obviously she hasn’t been taught about acceptance and how to be respectful of others. she is lucky that you guys go to the same playground!June 27, 2014 – 9:29 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I haven’t thought before about the relationship between esteem and success either but I really am thinking about it a lot now, mostly because I know that Tucker’s a prime candidate for giving up on something because it’s “too hard.” I had things I struggled with in school – I think most people have something they struggle with. The challenge for my son will be that he struggles with so much more than so many of his peers. I just never want him to feel like he’s a dummy…. so hard to know how to help them just be the best they can and not worry about it, ya know?June 28, 2014 – 10:40 amReplyCancel

      • Misty - totally. i guess all good parents worry that we are “messing up” our kids, right? it’s not just those of us who face the regular with a little extra thrown in for good measure?June 29, 2014 – 8:35 amReplyCancel

  • nothingbythebook - I think this is a beautiful post, and a message that cannot be repeated too often. The one point that I veer off-course with you at is… I don’t think everyone is the same on the inside. Nor should they be. A land of compassion should celebrate difference-diversity-uniqueness as much as it seeks to highlight similarity-bridges-commonality. I am quite different–inside and out–from some of the people I most love. And that’s ok… wonderful, in fact. Does that make sense?June 27, 2014 – 11:34 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks so much. What you say about everybody not being the same on the inside – I know what you mean. I think I was referring more to blood and guts and bones and stuff. Here’s to celebrating ALL of the differences and accepting everybody for who she is and loving the ones we love.June 28, 2014 – 10:50 amReplyCancel

  • Drun Kenman - I could definitely do better in the self-compassion department, as could quite a few other people I know. A lot of us are our own worst critics, and I have no idea how to rectify that. June 27, 2014 – 12:56 pmReplyCancel

  • Deb @ Urban Moo Cow - I loved this post and also Yvonne’s response. Healthy self-esteem. True self-compassion. So difficult, elusive, yet so important. I think about it every day. And sometimes the fact that I wrote that Our Land post makes me stop for a second and think about what I am saying to myself. I put it out in public, and now I need to start trying a little harder! Something like that.

    I also agree with Jane — celebrating diversity is the key. But also key is that we are all part of the same mosaic, all drops in the same ocean. It’s a balance, a very important one. Brava you.June 27, 2014 – 1:41 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Deb, it IS so damn difficult and so important. I have been thinking about it so much recently. The fact that while thinking about being kind to myself, I am also simultaneously thinking how fat I am is something I don’t know how to shake. Yes, to all being drops in the same ocean. xoJune 28, 2014 – 10:57 amReplyCancel

  • Deb @ Urban Moo Cow - Also: Wow. I can’t believe it’s been a year since I wrote that piece!June 27, 2014 – 1:44 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah - OK, you’re not the only one. This is a new idea to me, too, and I LOVE it. I struggle with the concept of strengths (on which to base self-esteem) and challenges. While I think it is valid and am definitely not talking of discarding the idea that everyone has strengths, the bottom line is that some people’s strengths are stronger than others’. Horrible to admit, but true. I love this idea of self-compassion over self-esteem because it covers that. You don’t have to find a strength that stands out from everyone else’s you just have to have compassion for yourself and others. It’s a whole new idea, a whole new way of looking at it!
    Also loved how you quoted the different bloggers. I need to read that book Yvonne was talking about. I am always struck by her use of language.June 27, 2014 – 1:49 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I love it too Sarah. And I think it’s really important to know that we’re fine the way we are and that while we should strive to be better for ourselves, that knowing other people are better at things than we’ll ever be should not take away from our own achievements. Or something like that. And yeah, I need to read that book too.June 28, 2014 – 11:00 amReplyCancel

  • Brittnei - Hmmm…I think you are right about self-esteem. The idea I think is to teach kids who they are, compassion and how to treat others. People who know who they are, understand how to care and show compassion towards others don’t find themselves on either end of arrogance or self hate. Either end of the spectrum can make for some pretty crappy personalities. 🙁 On the other hand, I’d like to believe that my faith helps with establishing the balance of how I see myself and others as well as how I treat both. 🙂June 27, 2014 – 1:49 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Brittnei, yes, I think teaching kids who they are and having compassion for themselves and for others is key to an accepting and loving world.June 28, 2014 – 11:01 amReplyCancel

  • Clark Scottroger - interesting Post. As a child who went through all of the bad/negative interactions (along with the positive) in school, I can identify. Hell, half my motivation for pushing the Doctrine is surely tied to the desire to spare the young clarks of the world the bad shit I went through, and I will continue to try.
    But part of what someone said or wrote (somewhere) about, I don’t know, I think it was ’empowering young women (or some other group of lifeforms), caused me to think, ‘wait a minute! you can’t empower me! no one can empower anyone (but themselves)’.
    I think I will stick with that… but, that is not the same (as some rogers might now be starting to respond), the same as doing nothing at all.
    imo, you are already doing what can (and should) be done for Tucker to prepare to meet the next challenge, and that is love him in a way that he will know that he has a place where none of the things that others say, matter. I like to think of this (aspect of a relationship) as ‘being a place to stand that is certain’.
    Speaking for myself and remembering (as a clark will) my own experiences at that age, having even a small spot of certainty in my life was the most important thing for me, at that time.
    June 27, 2014 – 3:48 pmReplyCancel

  • Allie - How in the world did you whip up this amazing post so quickly?!??!?! I’m in awe! And after the terrible driving traffic day we’ve just had – and my resulting snarkiness toward the children:( – I am grateful to you for reminding me to have self compassion. And have fun with the kids. My only contribution, form my fried brain would be to have a forgiving heart.

    BTW – Tucker is not weird, he is completely charming and adorable. Also, there’s a reason that girl is always by herself and hopefully she took your advice to heart.June 27, 2014 – 4:49 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Allie,
      I already had the idea and had started it, but thank you for thinking it’s amazing! I’m sorry about your terrible driving day – are you home now? And yes, a forgiving heart. That’s a huge one.
      XOXOJune 28, 2014 – 6:48 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ Golden Spoons - I never really thought much about this difference between self-esteem and self-compassion. However, I agree with the points you have made. I would certainly scold my children if they referred to someone negatively as “Fatso,” yet I call myself that in my head on a regular basis. Why don’t I deserve the same compassion I would expect to be given to a complete stranger? It is definitely something I need to thin about and work on with my girls.June 27, 2014 – 5:53 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Lisa, I never thought about it either until Yvonne’s comment but it’s such a good point, right? I mean, esteem means we need to be above average and not all of us can be above average. UGH to the Fatso voice in our heads. Sigh. You truly are beautiful though – inside and out. I can say that because I got to meet you in person!June 28, 2014 – 6:50 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ Golden Spoons - I never really thought much about this difference between self-esteem and self-compassion. However, I agree with the points you have made. I would certainly scold my children if they referred to someone negatively as “Fatso,” yet I call myself that in my head on a regular basis. Why don’t I deserve the same compassion I would expect to be given to a complete stranger? It is definitely something I need to think about and work on with my girls.June 27, 2014 – 5:53 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I never had either, Lisa. UGH to calling ourselves anything but awesome in our heads 🙁August 2, 2014 – 11:39 pmReplyCancel

  • Stephanie Smith Sprenger - This is absolutely amazing, my friend. Insert appropriate sports metaphor about slam dunks or out of the park here. This post is SO important, and you pulled it all together so beautifully. I haven’t read Neff’s book, but now I really want to. Kudos to you. June 27, 2014 – 8:58 pmReplyCancel

  • Lana - You are awesome. You did a brilliant job of comparing self esteem/self compassion. I have felt for several years now that we focus too much on self esteem with our children, and I’m worried that we have created a very narcissistic generation – time will tell. The world would be a much more wonderful place if we all spent more time on self compassion. Discussing it is a wonderful place to start. Have a great weekend!June 27, 2014 – 9:20 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Lana, aw, thanks, you. I think you’re right about creating a very narcissistic generation, and it’s kinda scary. And I agree that the world would be so much better if we all spent time on self compassion. So much easier said than done though. I hope you have a great weekend, too!June 28, 2014 – 6:52 pmReplyCancel

  • Dana Montenegro Hemelt - You write that we are more alike than different, and that is SO important to remember. A child may focus first on the difference between him and his peer, but if adults (teachers, parents) point out what the two of them have in common, you may just get the start of a friendship. I’ve seen it happen, and I hope it will happen in kindergarten for Tucker. June 27, 2014 – 11:42 pmReplyCancel

  • Alison - This is such an important and beautiful post, thank you for writing it. Thank you for your tips. I think kindness goes a long way – towards ourselves, our family, our friends, our community (in real life and online). Compassion goes a long, long way.June 28, 2014 – 7:39 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I think kindness and compassion go a long way, too, Alison. Sometimes, it’s easier to practice them than at others though…June 29, 2014 – 9:43 amReplyCancel

  • Kelly L McKenzie - I’m reminded of something I’ve not thought of in a while. It was at swim practice and a little boy lashed out verbally at the son of a friend of mine. His dad just sat there listening, not correcting the son. My friend (the mom) stood up and walked over to the dad and laced into him. In a firm but polite way. Dad refused to get it. He shouted at her, grabbed his kid and stormed off. Ouch. We then had a lengthy chat with our own two kids about what happened. It was a wonderful talk for us. For the other lad? Probably not so much.June 28, 2014 – 11:42 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Wow, Kelly. That dad sounds like an ass. Poor kid. At least your and your friend’s kids got a good lesson from it. Still, sounds horrifying. Those are the moments that I run over and over again in my head, wondering what I could have done to make the jerk “get it.” Sigh.June 29, 2014 – 9:44 amReplyCancel

  • Denise Farley - Thank you for this post Kristi. I don’t mean to be all “gooey” but by writing this post and putting it “out there” you truly epitomize the “starts at home ” concept. But not only that because as you referenced with your links, there are others who are doing the same. One person at a time. On the whole of it, it always seems as if the “it has to start at home” bit is idealistic indulgence. I have never believed that. Each of us indivudally possesses great power when it comes to promoting/encouraging positive feelings in others. The first natural place is with your own children if you have them. Very impressive that you felt compassion for the girl bully. It is a natural first instinct not to. Especially when your own child has fallen victim to her negative self image. Compassion is key. Understanding is key. More so with children for they don’t yet have the perspective that comes with age and experience. I babble today but I know you get what I’m saying. June 28, 2014 – 12:06 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi - I agree with Lizzi, that often the bullies need compassion, too. Good for you for taking the time to patiently and kindly teach that little girl. Bullying, of course, is not OK, but if we all viewed the actions of others under the umbrella of “where are they coming from?” we could interact with more kindness.

    Self-compassion is a great tool. We need to be as patient with ourselves as we are with others. Sometimes we can see the potential in others, but fail to recognize it in ourselves. We can love who we are becoming, not just the flawed person we are at the moment.June 28, 2014 – 1:34 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Kristi, they do need compassion, too. It’s not always easy to remember at the time but yeah, one has to wonder “where are they coming from?” for sure. I love this “we can love who we are becoming, not just the flawed person we are at the moment.” I’m going to remember that quote. Beautiful.June 29, 2014 – 9:48 amReplyCancel

  • Ruchira Khanna - I am with ya on this Kristi. If a person has not self compassion, many other factors become invisible which eventually lead to his existence being as a nobody!
    My post is also going towards that path with the hope for a better world for your son and mine!

    Have a good weekend!June 28, 2014 – 5:56 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me - This is such an important message, Kristi. I am disturbed beyond belief at how much I had to explain to my daughter this year – in Kindergarten for crying out loud – about bullying, nastiness, and how to handle the choices that other people make in our general direction. Ridiculous. You’re right – as a society, we have abandoned morals and simple human decency, it seems. Whatever happened to being polite and kind simply because it was the right thing to do? Makes my stomach turn, actually, when I see how mean kids (and adults…and everyone) can be to one another. Tucker will be great because you will be right there helping him deal with the bullshit that life tosses at us.June 28, 2014 – 10:23 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Lisa,
      I’m really bummed to read that you had to explain to your daughter about bullying already. Sigh. That’s REALLY sad. And scary. What’s wrong with people? Isn’t being kind pretty easy? UGH. And thanks so much for the encouragement. I just hope he’ll let me know if people at school are mean to him. It’s hard because I’m not sure he has the language to explain if that happens, ya know?June 29, 2014 – 9:56 amReplyCancel

  • Sarah Almond - I have a feeling that Tucker will thrive. But I get what you are worrying about. My son is special needs, but he is picked on because he is not socially acceptable, because he says what is on his mind rather than what he SHOULD say. That censor is not there, he is Sheldon Cooper. And I don’t have a diagnosis to say “Hey this is why he acts this way.”

    And I worry constantly about how others treat him because he has no censor-and he has no self-control and no friends. 🙁

    I love your tips. Kristi you are awesome.June 28, 2014 – 11:46 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Oh Sarah, that’s so damn hard 🙁 Can you go to the school and talk about special needs or something? I mean he doesn’t have to have a diagnosis to know that he processes things differently right? UGH. I’m really sorry that he’s getting picked on. That sucks and makes me super sad and want to go to his school myself and talk about kindness and empathy and that everybody has challenges!!June 29, 2014 – 9:59 amReplyCancel

  • Laurie Hollman, Parental Intelligence - This is a wonderful post because it’s about compassion and connection. The two C’s that make us human. The post itself offers both those virtues and is very moving to read. Thanks.June 29, 2014 – 4:50 pmReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Hall - This is wonderful, Kristi. My daughter has ADHD and she if fully aware that means her brain works differently than other people’s brains. Sometimes she gets frustrated, like when she forgets or loses something, but she is also developing a sense of humor about it, which I love. Her self-esteem has taken some hits. She’s not a good self-advocate. I will chew on this idea of self-esteem vs. self-compassion some more, and hopefully I can pass it on to her. Thank you!June 29, 2014 – 11:33 pmReplyCancel

  • Katia - I wish I had more ideas, but you, my friend, captured this perfectly. Yvonne and you are both incredibly wise and caring. I’ve bookmarked this page because I know I’m going to want to come back to it and be reminded of some of the ways to practice self compassion and to teach it to my kids’. Self compassion doesn’t come naturally to me. In fact, my inner dialogue is the opposite of self compassionate. Your first advice resonated with me greatly. I know that I’m my own worst judge and accept it as a given, but should I? You wrote beautifully and from a beautiful place, which is very compassionate to begin with it. That girl would have evoked the same feelings in me. I can’t stand bullying.July 1, 2014 – 1:52 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I can’t stand bullying either, Katia, and have a similar voice to yours in my head. Telling me I am old and fat and stupid, and that everybody does parenting better than I do and a 1,001 other things…but really, do I want my son to believe those things about me? About himself? NO. So I need to make it so that I don’t believe them either, ya know? So hard tough. So hard. Hugs to you – you are enough, exactly as you are. I promise. <3July 1, 2014 – 5:27 pmReplyCancel

  • Kate Hall - Wow, Kristi, this is just beautiful. I love it. I love those 8 ways. I want to work on #3. I find myself trying to do that, but not quite. I was on the computer last night and heard my family out on the trampoline (husband too). I wanted to join the fun, so I walked away from the computer while I was alone (gasp!) and went out to be with my family. We only had 15 minutes before it got too dark to be outside, but I’m glad I went out. Also, I got a shirt at that Peeps store too. But mine says, “Chillin’ with my Peeps.” haha!July 2, 2014 – 12:00 pmReplyCancel

  • Kate Hall - P.S. I don’t see a Facebook share button on here. Am I missing it? – I see the like button.July 2, 2014 – 12:01 pmReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - Kristi, this was so eye-opening. I had never considered the difference between self-compassion and self-esteem and I have about 13 things I want to quote from above, suffice it to say I’m going to re-read this and talk to my own children because it’s doubtful they know the difference either – and they need to, just as I do.July 2, 2014 – 1:03 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I had never considered it either, Stephanie, but I really think it’s important to foster self compassion rather than being better than average. I’m trying. Thanks so much for the comment!July 28, 2014 – 12:02 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah Cass - I’ve worried about my special needs girl every single year that she’s been in inclusive classrooms. I cried over her every day when I’d pick up her sister from kindergarten and I’d see her out at recess…alone…but she is smart, beautiful, and so much stronger than I gave her credit for. We’ve considered putting her in a different school district w/ a better special needs program…but she’s managed to make leaps and bounds and even made some friends.July 2, 2014 – 7:29 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - OMG the entire school thing is so unbelievably hard. I am terrified of kindergarten. Terrified. Thank you for saying something. Gulp.August 2, 2014 – 11:37 pmReplyCancel

  • Louise - I love this – and the idea of self-compassion rather than self-esteem. I may look up that book, as I’d agree that sometimes self-esteem/boosting self-confidence has the effect of making kids think they are better at things than they are (which is demoralizing in the end) and also unnecessarily leads to competition (many things in life are competition – but not everything).

    As for the bully on the playground – good on you for approaching it head on. I remember being at the beach once with my eldest before she had eye surgery (she was about 2 and change at the time). She was pretty cross-eyed before the surgery and one of the kids on the beach referred to her as a “freak” and she heard. I suspect she knew enough to understand it wasn’t a compliment. At the time I was angry, took her away, and didn’t approach the kid in question. I should have – because I suspect much that sounds mean from young kids can be diffused with some explanation.

    A lovely post!July 3, 2014 – 11:54 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I love the idea of self compassion more than self esteem as well, Louise!!! Thank you so much and so sorry for the delayed reply. I’m so sorry too about that kid saying something that your beautiful daughter overheard. UGH. Kids are cool and honest – but it’s the parents who need to pay attention!!August 2, 2014 – 11:44 pmReplyCancel

  • Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life - Kristi, this is amazing. I try to do this with my kids, and I hope I have been successful. We’ve all the target of “meanness” at one point or another and when it happens, I try to use it as a learning experience, talking about how it made each of us feel and why we should not do that to others. Life is a learning experience, no matter how old we are. Self compassion is very important.

    I want my kids to have good self esteem too, but I also never want them to think they are better than others…every person has a gift…it’s just a matter of finding it.July 6, 2014 – 8:44 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you so very much, Michelle!!! I think it’s so important, as well and never really considered the difference. I’m glad I have considered it now…August 2, 2014 – 11:54 pmReplyCancel

  • Roshni - That’s a wonderful assessment by Yvonne that we all cannot be above average and that that’s okay! Compassion is such an important trait in a fast-paced society and I’m so glad you wrote about it so beautifully!July 7, 2014 – 4:41 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you Roshni, and I agree that Yvonne’s words are so important. We cannot all be above average, and should not try to be.August 2, 2014 – 11:56 pmReplyCancel

  • Roshni AaMom - The pendulum keeps swinging each generation of parents. Earlier, we used to focus on achievement and performance; later, we feared low self-esteem and we started preaching the ‘everybody is a winner’ dictum…possibly leading to a whole generation of narcissists! Now, hopefully, parents like Kristi can raise awareness that the most valuable lesson we can teach our kids is self-compassion!July 7, 2014 – 9:30 pmReplyCancel

  • Roshni AaMom - The pendulum keeps swinging each generation of parents. Earlier, we used to focus on achievement and performance; later, we feared low self-esteem and we started preaching the ‘everybody is a winner’ dictum…possibly leading to a whole generation of narcissists! Now, hopefully, parents like Kristi can raise awareness that the most valuable lesson we can teach our kids is self-compassion!July 7, 2014 – 9:30 pmReplyCancel

  • Joyful Girl - I love, love, love this post (and the headline!) 🙂 So applicable to everyone, not just parents. It was nice meeting you at BlogHer!July 27, 2014 – 5:19 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - HAHAH to the headline and thank you!!! xo it was awesome to meet you as well.August 2, 2014 – 11:56 pmReplyCancel

  • Angel The Alien - As a person with special needs myself and a hopefully-soon-to-be-actual-special-education-teacher, I will always do my best to make sure no children in my classes have crushing experiences. I wish Tucker could be in my class! He really does sound like a fun kid to be around!July 31, 2014 – 1:28 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Angel, I would LOVE for Tucker to be in your class! He’s a blast and I’ll bet you two would have tons of fun together!!August 3, 2014 – 5:50 pmReplyCancel

  • My Inner Chick - –What you said to the little bully was faaaaabulous. This is exactly what I would have said.

    I work in a classroom w/ 10 autistic children and they absolutely crack me up. Seriously.

    They have MUCH insight & teach me A LOT.

    For example, one day Tyler says, “I’m going to take Lilly out this weekend.” (Lilly is the only girl in our class)

    I say, “Will you bring her chocolates, Flowers? Girls Love that!”

    Tyler says, “No. I’m buying her a tiara.”

    Do you LOVE that or NOT?!!!! All girls want tiaras, right?!

    Anyhow, we do NOT EVER tolerate bullying. As you say, we are all connected in this crazy world & that is abundantly beautiful.

    xxAugust 2, 2014 – 8:49 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - OMG I love the conversation that all girls want tiaras. Probably true and unbelievably sweet.August 2, 2014 – 11:35 pmReplyCancel

  • Callie Feyen - Kristi,
    There’s so much about this post that I love, but I think that what holds true every time I come here is that your voice is equal parts passionate, hilarious, and articulate. I know I’m coming here for a good story but I also know that I’m going to be changed in some way.
    I LOVED your words: “it’s my belief that we are all important.” Yes and amen. You showed that here in not just your care for yourself, your son, and even the bully (which is so hard for me to do!) This blog and your words are vitally important to the world! Keep on keepin’ on!August 3, 2014 – 9:40 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks Callie! You’re so awesome and yeah, it is hard for me to care about the bully too but then I wonder why she’s such a little bully, ya know? I mean… it’s kinda sad… xoOctober 4, 2014 – 12:56 pmReplyCancel

  • Meredith - I wish I had been taught self-compassion as a kid. Instead, I’ve had to learn as an adult while raising my own kids, and sometimes, I still feel at a loss for how to teach them to accept their own imperfections as who they are when I sometimes still can’t accept my own. Beautiful, thought provoking post Kristi.October 2, 2014 – 4:28 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I wish I’d been taught it as well, Meredith. It’s so hard to teach our kids that they are perfectly imperfect with all of their flaws and quirks when we’re so mean to ourselves about weight, messy houses, not doing or being enough… thanks so much for your thoughtful comment!October 4, 2014 – 1:06 pmReplyCancel

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