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Teen Self-Compassion: Changing the Narrative

“If your best friend came up to you first thing in the morning and said that he or she was ugly, or stupid, or worthless, what would you do?”


This is the question asked to the students at Wheatland-Chili MS/HS by Nick Moore from Partners in Restorative Initiatives. Moore is an experienced facilitator in community circle building and conflict resolution. The groups agreed that they would try to say something nice to make their friend feel better.


Moore continues, “What do you say to yourself if you’re feeling ugly, or stupid, or worthless? Are you as kind to yourself as you would be to a friend?”

This is the basis of self-compassion.


“We all know what it’s like to feel bad. The question is, what can we do to shift that? What are some of the things we do to be kind to ourselves?” This is Judith Lardner. She has been with the Partners in Restorative Initiatives for several years teaching restorative practices and nonviolent communication.


This is the first time Partners in Restorative Initiatives has offered this workshop to students. It is a condensed version of a class series offered by their organization designed to help students understand self-compassion.


“What we are hoping to do with these students is plant the seeds of the value of self-compassion. We want them to recognize that it is tough being this age and have the awareness that everyone is going through it,” said Lardner.


This program works in conjunction with the Second Step program. The Second Step program teaches social emotional learning (SEL) by focusing on understanding and managing emotions, setting and achieving positive goals, feeling and showing empathy for others, establishing and maintaining positive relationships, and making responsible decisions.


Principal Eric Windover welcomed the students, “We feel stress. We get stressed. But most importantly, how do we deal with stress.”


Throughout the workshop, students learned to identify the negative voice in their head and find ways to change the voice to focus on kindness. They also listed activities that help deal with stress and calming the negative voice in their head including listening to music, drawing, exercise, or simply talking to a friend.


“I hope the students will begin to identify their own critical voice,” said Moore. “Then they can begin to change it to an encouraging voice.”

self compassion workshop