Self-compassion and the parenting behaviors of mothers of young children



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One of the most challenging aspects of being a parent is managing the many emotions that are aroused in the context of caring for a child. This dissertation explores the relationships among self-compassion, affective distress, parenting self-efficacy, and negative parenting behaviors in a sample of mothers of preschool-aged children (n = 139). Participants completed several self-report measures on-line including the Self-Compassion Scale (SCS), the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS), the Parenting Sense of Competence Scale (PSOC), and the Parenting Scale (PS). Higher levels of self-compassion were associated with fewer negative parenting behaviors and higher levels of parenting satisfaction. Initial data analyses revealed the relationship between self-compassion and negative parenting behaviors was partially mediated by affective distress and parenting self-efficacy. However, when lax and overreactive parenting behaviors were examined separately, only overreactive parenting behaviors were significantly related to self-compassion. Self-efficacy---but not negative affect---continued to partially mediate this relationship. The results of the study suggest that self-compassion, as a way of being and as a strategy of emotion regulation, is an asset when facing the challenges and emotional tide of parenting. Limitations of the study and future areas of research are discussed.