Tools for Your Parenting Toolbox: SELF-COMPASSION & REFRAMING

Welcome back to the third and final post in my series on how we can support our kids by using some simple therapeutic strategies at home. I’m Kim Hamilton and a therapist at Louisville Mindfulness Center. I specialize in working with kids, teens, and parents to create family harmony. I love to support parents by offering them tools for their parenting toolbox to handle the stress and uncertainty that comes along with parenting.

In the past weeks, I have told you about three other tools  – Attunement, Emotional Literacy, and Self-Regulation. With these skills, you are able to take notice when your child needs a deeper level of attention, help them to understand what they are feeling and why, and give them tips on how to cope in the moment. Be sure to check out the previous posts for more detail!

Today I will share with you the final two tools: self-compassion and reframing.


Give yourself and your child a break! If your child is hard on themselves, don’t just tell them to calm down. Instead, talk with them about the three steps to implement self-compassion:

  1. Acknowledge that you are experiencing pain and be kind to yourself. Being kind to yourself increases well-being, reduces anxiety and depression and can help fend off other health issues like substance abuse, eating disorders, and suicidal ideation.
  2. Recognize that you are not alone. We are so creatures and mostly all harbor some amount of empathy for other people. If someone around you is feeling anxious, you will most likely pick up on that and feel some anxiety. This is especially true for close relationships, like parents and children. 
  3. Put your experiences in perspective to moderate your own negative reactivity. If your child is having a high-intensity moment and you are feeling yourself getting worked up, instead of exploding, implement self-compassion instead. You can do this by speaking out loud or silently to calm yourself. Your child benefits regardless.

This final tool is one of my favorites! When we get annoyed, mad, or frustrated with our kids, we often begin labeling them either out loud or in our heads. Instead of automatically going to that place, try thinking about other ways you can look at the situation.

By avoiding assumptions and judgments you can see and become open to other possibilities and can envision positive paths forward. For example, if your child is upset because they are having trouble with a friend, they may immediately go to the worst possible scenario and assume things like the friend doesn’t like them anymore or maybe even that nobody likes them. You can help them feel better by reframing the situation and asking questions like, “What’s the worst thing that could happen? Is it forever or just temporary? Is it everybody?”

Help them to question the assumptions they are making and to think optimistically. This way they are able to see bad things as temporary and specific. It’s easy to generalize and view bad situations as permanent when we are sad or upset. By reframing, we can see the other, more realistic, possibilities.

I hope you have enjoyed learning these five skills and are now able to implement them into practice with yourself and with your family! By learning how to be a more effective parent and really listening to our kids, we build their resilience so they can be happy, motivated, and empowered.

If you have experimented with these tools with your children, I’d love to know how it went! Feel free to email me and let me know:

If you liked what you read and feel I could be of assistance to you and your family, feel free to schedule a free 10-minute consult with me at your convenience online HERE!

Kim Hamilton, MAMFT specializes in working with kids, teens, and parents to bring emotional regulation and harmony to families and households. She works from a non-judgemental, solution-focused, non-pathologizing perspective that creates win-win scenarios within relationships. Megan Bayles Bartley is excited for Kim to join the team and knows she will be a wonderful resource for your family.

Find out more on Kim’s bio page on the Louisville Mindfulness Center website!



*This blog was inspired by the Washington Post article: “Five skills parents can learn so they can help their children cope”