Self-Compassion and Helping your Child Thrive During a Relocation
Self Compassion for Expat Kids
Here at The Expat Kids Club we aim to address all of the many pieces that make expat kids “tick,” and so each month we choose a theme that is a part of this larger picture. This month’s theme is a big one – self compassion, and more specifically we’re considering, “How can we support the cultivation of self compassion for expat kids?”
Self Compassion is Important
We would like to make the case that teaching expat kids to be kind to themselves is one of the most crucial skills to develop, and here why:
Expat kids are in a unique position – because of their diverse life experiences – for leadership (they are so cool)
Expat leaders have the potential to connect with and influence large audiences and communities (think: impact)
There’s an opportunity to teach our expat (kids) leaders to lead really well – with kindness, patience, empathy etc. (wow, we need leaders like this!)
And in order to lead with these motives, one has to start with cultivating kindness, patience, empathy, etc. within themself (Namaste)
Helping expat kids build self compassion not only has positive effects on those around them, but also helps to build their own ability to be kind and resilient in the face of life’s challenges. As Ruth van Reken says, “Resilience requires self-compassion, which is a gift not only to yourself, but your family, and all of those that come after you.”
Self Compassion is Hard
We don’t put enough emphasis on self-compassion, and one reason could be because we are programed to do better, work harder, aim higher. So it’s not a surprise that kids follow our lead and struggle to be kind to themselves when they encounter challenges.
For example, in the last few weeks as many of our teenage clients have had to finalize their university admissions procedure, the question of “should I choose the school that fits me best, or should I choose the the one that make me push myself?” came up more than a few times in the conversations we’ve been having.
This decision seems to be especially hard for expat kids because not only are the growing up in a high-pressure environment (many of them have parents that are high-performers in their careers), but also because the fear making the “wrong” choice and missing out on the “full college experience” (so magically – unattainably – portrayed in shows/movies) can trigger some of the deep sadness and grief they know all too well from any of their previous relocation experiences.
How can we help expat kids make choices (whether they are facing college decisions, or whether or not to renew piano lessons, or how to deal with a difficult social dynamic on the playground), taking into consideration the delicate balance between supporting need for achievement and success, with well-being?
How To Teach Self-Compassion.
If you follow my blog you probably can guess how – start with yourself. Parents can show their kids that they are dedicated to practicing self-compassion by verbalizing some of the thought-processing, and talking about their own triumphs and challenges with being kind to themselves.
In addition, staying open and curious for when emotions are present by asking children how they are feeling, what sensations they notice in their bodies, etc. is a way of setting the foundation for self-compassion, because this way of acknowledging emotions is called “emotional validation” and when done effectively it sends the powerful message, “You are relevant, you matter and yes, you are good enough.” If children believe these ideas as truth, they are more able to be kind to themselves and in-turn share that compassion with those around them. Win-win.
We’re going to be sharing all sorts of information on our social media pages this month that follow this self-compassion for expat kids theme so would love to have you interact with us over there.