Children need to learn how to be self-compassionate, too. As parents, grandparents, caring relatives, teachers or mentors, it really is our responsibility to share what we know with the next generation—who we hope, of course, will be even more aware, kind and compassionate than we are.
With gentle guidance, we can teach children about the importance of applying self-compassion so they can easily apply it when they need it the most.
This is an exercise I developed a few years to help a child remember to be kinder to him or herself; to soothe oneself when s/he is upset. I call it:
I Pledge Allegiance to My Heart
Our heart is the visible reminder that we have a place within us that serves as a placeholder for love, inner peace, kindness and appreciation—for the “virtues of the Spirit.”
When your child is feeling anxious or upset, invite him to sit down and reconnect with his good, calm heart.
Have him place his hand over his heart center, to sit quietly and to feel his chest rising and falling. Then to take a few slow, centering breaths.
It is not necessary to count inhalations or exhalations. Focus, instead, on the feeling of the breath moving into the body at the base of the nostrils and moving down through the body, filling the lungs and belly with air.
You may wish to do this practice alongside your child so he feels as if he is doing it with someone, which can create greater ease. “Let’s do this together, shall we?”
You may wish to invite him to repeat these phrases along with you.
“I pledge allegiance to my heart.
I have a good heart.
I have a kind heart.
I have a calm heart.”
Continue to breathe together and repeat the “pledge” until equanimity returns.
Note: Of course, as adults, we can do this practice too, and I hope you will!
Blessings of ease to you,
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Janice Lynne Lundy, DMin
is an educator, interspiritual director/guide and retreat leader who has been pointing people back toward the Sacred for more than twenty years. She is the author of several spiritual growth books, including Your Truest Self, My Deepest Me and Portable Peace., and is the co-founder and director of the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute.