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How to Free Your Child from Drowning in Self-Pity

By Jean Tracy, MSS

Self-pity thoughts are like little monsters that sneak into our brains and bring us down. If your child indulges in such thoughts, you can help her change. Today, you'll find a story, 5 signs of self-pity, two activities, and a self-pity poem, "Self-Pity Isn't Pretty."

In the end you'll also find a video with self-pity solutions.

The Problem Story:

Eight-year-old Sandra's best friend moved away. While walking home alone, Sandra asks aloud, "Why did Linda move away? Will she ever come back? I'll never see her again."

The monster trolls are creeping into her thoughts.

"She'll forget about me. I don't have anyone to play with. I'm all alone." Tears roll down Sandy's face.

Sandra's story demonstrates the self-pity process. First, our minds latch onto a painful event. Then we allow the "poor me" thoughts to flow. Self-pity takes us deep inside, weakens our spirit, and attacks our resilience. It holds us captive. We might even cry.

It may be hard for you to believe, but there is a self-soothing pleasure in feeling sorry for ourselves. It comforts us.

"Self-pity in its early stage is as snug as a feather mattress. Only when it hardens does it become uncomfortable." – Maya Angelou

"But doesn't Sandra have a right to her thoughts and feelings?" you ask. After all, her friend moved away. Certainly! You'll find out how to help her in a moment. But first, what are some signals that your child's negative thinking is causing pain?

Your Child May Be Wallowing in Self-Pity If She:

1. Acts grumpy.
2. Appears sad.
3. Whines.

When everyday disappointments, difficult challenges, and misunderstandings occur, it's easy to feel self-pity.

It's okay to feel badly for a while but not forever.

Feeling upset early on makes sense. Increasing pain by purposely recycling hurtful thoughts doesn't.

How to Help Your Child

  1. Privately say, "I sense something is wrong, Sandra. You look sad and hardly talk. Tell me what's going on."
  2. When she tells you, say "I can see why you feel that way and I'm sorry it's happening. Is there anything else you want to tell me?" Your empathy helps her talk.
  3. If your child has more to say, don't interrupt. Listen well and let her know you care about her feelings. Ask, "Would you like some help to feel better?" If she's not ready to change her thoughts or create solutions, end by giving her a hug.

She'll probably feel understood and trust you even more.

When Do You Talk about Self-Pity?

At another time and as a lead in, tell her about an incident in which self-pity hurt you. Then, if it feels right, talk about your earlier discussion with her when you sensed her self-pity. Discuss how recycling miserable thoughts can feel good at the time but how it can hurt you in the long run. Find out what she thinks. Then share these activities:

The Daydream Activity

1. Tell her, "When you're daydreaming and feeling sad, become aware of self-pity."
2. Physically shake your head "No!" to the daydream.
3. Yell, "STOP" to the thoughts.
4. Come back the present. Notice your body and the things around you.
5. Reconnect with what's happening now and focus on something good.

Advise her to use this activity as often as she needs it.

Second Activity – Memorize, Draw, and Post

Read and consider memorizing this poem together. Ask her to draw it and post her drawing in her room as a reminder.

Self-Pity Isn't Pretty

Just because it feels snugly
Doesn't mean it isn't ugly.
It's a monster that controls
Like 10,000 nasty trolls.
If it sneaks into my brain,
I'll yell, "STOP! You're such a pain!"
I detest each "poor me" ditty.
Cuz self-pity isn't pretty!
Some self-pity is okay,
But please don't let it stay.
You CAN make it go away.
Choose to rise above self-pity,
With a CAN DO mind that's pretty.

Conclusion for Freeing Your Child from the Self-Pity Monsters

Self-Pity is a habit that fills your children with painful thoughts and feelings. The more they're recycled the stronger the negativity becomes, weakening their spirits, and attacking their resilience.

To conquer this consuming habit, discuss, listen, and empathize. Teach the "Daydream" activity. Memorize, draw, and post the poem, "Self Pity Isn't Pretty." If you do, your child will understand why self-pity is a monster and how to overcome it. You'll be building character too.

Watch the brief video below.


Brief YouTube Video: How Parents Help Kids Rise above Self-Pity

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