Parenting a Troubled Teen: Practice Self Compassion

We are all taught from a young age of how important it is to show each other compassion, but self-compassion is not always taught. If you are parenting a troubled teenager and need help, remember there are some things you can do internally to take care of yourself during this stressful time. As a therapeutic boarding school, we always tell parents that practicing self-compassion can help you get through your daily struggles –big and small –with an open mind and positive outlook. There’s no such thing as a perfect parent. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect to deserve support.

According to Dr. Kristin Neff, “ Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings…”

While it may be difficult to change the way you feel about your shortcomings and mistakes, there are steps you can take to help remind yourself that we all have struggles and that it is ok to care for yourself when you are feeling down. Here at Greenbrier Academy for Girls, we work with troubled teens to change the way they look at themselves and show them how capable and talented they truly are. We work with each of our students to help them embrace their whole self – strengths, weaknesses and all – to ensure a successful and happy future that includes showing oneself self-compassion and love.

If we’ve learned anything in our years of experience working with parents of troubled teens, it’s that healing students means healing families. Learning self compassion extends to you as well.


An important piece of self-compassion is learning to treat oneself with kindness. When you are suffering, it is important to remember to show yourself the kindness you would show another in your same shoes. Whether you are hurting after an argument with your troubled teen, or a low test score they received, it’s important to show yourself kindness and sympathy instead of criticizing yourself further.

Common Humanity

Another key aspect of self-compassion is common humanity. Even when you make a mistake, remember that you are not alone. All of us have experienced pain and shortcoming before and all of us will again; it is all part of being human. Instead of berating or putting yourself down, try to remember that you are not alone and show yourself the kindness and compassion you would hope to receive from others.

We’re here to tell you that there are thousands of families currently struggling with their troubled teens just like you. Help is available and it’s not all your fault. Know that you’re not alone.


It is difficult to push away feelings of negativity, which is why mindfulness is such an important part of self-compassion. Pay attention to your feelings and stop yourself if you begin to judge yourself and think negatively. While it takes time to become completely mindful of your emotions, this ability will help you to change your thought path to kinder, more sympathetic thoughts.

To learn more about self-compassion, visit Self-compassion cannot be learned in a day or a week. It takes time, along with the love and support of those around you. If you’ve reached a point where you really need help parenting your troubled teen, Greenbrier Academy is here to provide that support to your family and your troubled teenage daughter through our college prep academics and therapeutic programs.

To learn more about Greenbrier Academy visit us online or call us at 877-788-8422.

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