Self-Compassion for Children and Caregivers Study

Frequently Asked Questions

What is self-compassion?

Self-compassion is a skill that can be learned. It can help kids and adults cope with difficult feelings—like sadness, anger, worry, or disappointment—in a healthy, resilient way.

Self-compassion involves noticing when you are having a hard time, remembering that these difficult feelings are normal, and offering yourself kindness and support through words and actions. Self-compassion is like being a good friend to yourself, no matter what.

What is the goal of this research study?

The Self-Compassion for Children and Caregivers Study aims to understand if an online course designed to help kids and their caregivers learn self-compassion is feasible, enjoyable, and helpful for well-being and relationships in families from diverse backgrounds.

Who is eligible to participate?

Children ages 8-11 who attend Glenn Stephens Elementary school and have a caregiver willing to participate with them are eligible. Participants need to speak and read English and have access to a device that gets on the internet (e.g. smart phone, computer). We aim to have 20-24 pairs participate (2 groups of 10-12 pairs).

What will happen if I join the study?

Eligible children and their participating caregiver (parent, guardian) will…

  • Attend 2 in-person study visits (about 1-1.5 hour each) that includes
    • A survey for caregiver and child
    • A brief computer task while heart rate and sweat is recorded (child)
    • A brief discussion about how the challenge went
  • Participate in a 6-session, online self-compassion course with other families
  • Provide feedback about how the course went

What will I receive if I join the study?

Participants receive the course free of charge and receive $125 for completing all study activities. Internet hot spots, transportation for the 2 study visits, and childcare during the study visits are available.

Why should I participate?

  • You want to help yourself and/or your child understand and cope with their difficult emotions better
  • You want to grow your relationship with your child
  • Raising children is hard work…you’d like to meet other families who are doing this hard work, too
  • You want to contribute to science and make this course the best it can be for all families

What actually happens in the course?

Participants will be in a group with about 10 other child-caregiver pairs and one or two instructors. Each of the 6 weekly sessions lasts 1 hour over Zoom.  If possible, find a private, distraction-free spot in your home.

Sessions will begin with a short period of movement. Pairs will then participate in mindfulness and self-compassion mini-lessons and practices. Lessons incorporate fun props, games and activities.

What will it be like to participate as a pair during the course?

Each pair will be invited to share a screen while they participate in the live-online sessions together. Caregivers and kids will be invited periodically to mute themselves to discuss their experiences with one another. There will also be opportunities for whole group and small group sharing.

What is my role as the parent/caregiver?

The best way to support your child in this program is to be a co-learner and come with an open mind. The material we discuss in the course is applicable to humans of any age. When possible, model the material for your child by talking out loud often about your experiences with self-compassion. Talk about the difficult time you had, how you felt, and what you did or said to yourself. This is one of the most powerful ways to help your child learn.

What if my child doesn’t want to come?

Many children start the course with difficult feelings about the course including boredom and worry. If this happens for your child, you might…

  • Tell them you understand and that its normal to feel this way
  • Remind them they don’t ever have to share anything that they don’t want to
  • Offer your child encouragement through favorite activities or mini-celebrations after completing sessions.

What if my child gets distracted or has trouble sitting still/with online programs?

Many children have this difficulty. If this happens for your child, you might…

  • Tell them you understand and that is normal to feel this way
  • Bring paper and pencil, and fidget objects to each session. Children can draw, write or fidget throughout. They will still benefit!
  • Remember the course will have movement as part of each session.
  • Self-compassion is about noticing what you need and taking care of yourself. Need to stretch? Need a drink? Need a snack? Please do!
  • Remind yourself that it is OK if your child seems disengaged at times, and consider you are “planting seeds” that may bloom at unexpected moments in the future