Embracing self-love is one of the best ways to become a better parent.

Originally posted on Psychology Today

Day in and day out, deadlines, schedules, financial pressures, and social demands collide with the work of raising children, who test and challenge as much as they enthrall. Difficult societal pressures ask us to be high-achieving, dedicated workers, partners, and parents, but can often leave us feeling like failures. Depression, anxiety, loneliness, exhaustion, and resentment too often define our daily lives and negatively impact our ability to parent with joy and confidence.

Raising children is hard, but a practice of self-love enables us to ride the challenges and truly experience the pleasures of parenthood. Here are some strategies to give yourself the gift of self-love. You and your children deserve it!

1. Prioritize self-care and sleep.

Exhaustion and lack of self-care are often the hallmarks of parenting, but they don’t have to be! To the best of your ability, give yourself the same care that you give your children, in terms of healthy food, sleep, and exercise. Compromising self-care is one of the worst things you can do as a parent, not only in terms of role modeling but also because it’s a direct affront to your parenting skills. Exhausted, strung-out, and sick parents experience a host of negative emotional states that can be harmful to your family.

2. Acknowledge psychological pain.

Psychological injuries are just as important to address as physical injuries. A profound step toward self-love is emotional healing. Refusing to deal with past pain is risky, as raising children will inevitably trigger old wounds. Understanding and healing our psychological pain is the ultimate expression of self-love.

3. Aim for optimism. 

Do you have a pessimistic side? Always fearing or expecting the worst makes for anxious parenting. Aiming for a more optimistic approach may require retraining your brain, but it’s worth it. Start to take note of when your negative thinking was wrong, and start noticing positive actions and results. Believing in yourself and others will spread optimism and joy to your children.

4. Give yourself praise

Children push us to our limits, invoking feelings of inadequacy. Instead of telling yourself that you’re screwing up, shift your focus on what’s going well. Spend some time each day focusing on what you’re offering your child and how well you’re doing. Pat yourself on the back for small accomplishments. By getting into a habit of praising yourself, you can reduce the unnecessary guilt that so many of us parents experience.

5. Forgive yourself

Everyone gets tired and cranky sometimes, and every parent says things they wish they could take back. Aim to be as forgiving with yourself as you are with others. Acceptance and forgivenessare essential to any healthy relationship – even your relationship with yourself!

Get the final 5 strategies on Psychology Today.


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