No Kidding: How to Help Children Practice Self-Care
Kids who learn self-care measures when they're young make for much more well-adjusted and healthy adults because they have the ability to be introspective, to self-soothe, and to have a more positive outlook on life. This is especially important for adopted kids who need to see you modeling these behaviors to recognize how to emulate them on their own. Today, Creative Kids Virtual Preschool shares some tips and resources to help children adjust and thrive in their adopted families.
How Do You Manage Stress?
Kids are sponges, and they take their cues from their parents. If your kids see you stressing about work, lack of time, money, or food issues, they're more likely to internalize what they see and begin to develop those same worries themselves. Although you may feel overwhelmed because of your own busy schedule, carve out some intentional time to spend with your child. Let them help you with daily tasks to model helpfulness and the idea of giving back. These instances often provide opportunities to talk about and model how we handle stress, mistakes, and setbacks, too.
According to the Child Mind Institute, it’s important to make a conscious effort not only to teach your kids best practices around self-care, but to also model them. When your children see you taking time for yourself, followed by your explanation of why it's important to maintain a healthy balance in life, they’re more likely to recognize this as a valuable personal tool.
How to Teach Self-Care
While showing by example is the strongest and most effective way to demonstrate the value of self-care, you can also tailor your approach based on your child’s specific needs. For example, if your child suffers from anxiety around schoolwork, help them learn time management so they aren’t bombarded with fast-approaching deadlines.
If your child has a difficult time going to sleep, encourage listening to soothing music rather than being on electronics as a way to relax and prepare for slumber. According to Kids Health, if your child has anxiety around food or gets grumpy when they eat junk, teach them healthy habits, like how fueling your body with good food can improve how they think and feel.
You can also talk to your child about how your house reflects your mood. Ask them how they feel when there are toys all around them, or when they sit at a dirty table. Explain how those feelings can be addressed by simply cleaning up and taking responsibility for the spaces around them. Then, show them some strategies for tidying up their room quickly so that it doesn’t feel like an overwhelming chore. These little actions can help make your home an even happier place, and help your child learn how their choices affect their mood and environment.
Be a Positive Role Model
Parents play a pivotal role in teaching children the value of self-care by embodying its principles in their own lives. When children observe their parents taking time for themselves, managing stress, and prioritizing their mental and physical well-being, they internalize these behaviors as normal and beneficial. By consistently setting boundaries, engaging in regular self-reflection, and cultivating healthy habits, parents demonstrate that self-care is not an indulgence but a necessary aspect of a balanced life. Their example reinforces the message that taking care of oneself is both a responsibility and a right, paving the way for children to adopt these habits early on.
Child-Specific Self-Care Measures
While adults have a lot more control over the level of self-care they're able to apply to themselves, kids often have fewer options, and will rely on you to help them adopt healthy practices. For example, you can help your child explore different art mediums online, then supply them with the tools they need to try something like watercolor painting, hand sculpting, or even learning an instrument.
Help kids recognize that balance is essential in life, whether that's between home, family, and friends, or school and personal efforts. Give them permission and encouragement to prioritize themselves in healthy ways, and teach them there’s a difference between being selfish and taking care of your own personal needs.
Practice Self-Care as a Family
A great way to demonstrate the value of self-care is to practice it as a family. This is especially important if you have older children who are still trying to figure out their place in the world. Have a daily meditation session where you practice controlled and relaxed breathing, or give everyone a gratitude journal and share your thoughts together on a regular basis.
Prepare healthy meals together or even play a family sport as a way to encourage physical fitness. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion explains that physical activity - especially stuff that gets the heart pumping - can benefit developing brains, improve body image, and decrease anxiety. Find an activity you enjoy doing together - perhaps walking. If your neighborhood isn’t walkable, consider nearby areas that get high marks for their Walk Score. Do this activity together, and encourage your kids to pursue it on their own, too.
Helping children learn self-care now is a great way to assist them in dealing with stress and anxiety. It also gives them the tools they need to grow into successful adults with healthy coping skills. So show them how to prioritize themselves and make tough decisions. These skills will benefit them throughout their lives.
Authored by Charlene Roth for Creative Kids Preschool Fredericksburg Virginia. Charlene is a stay-at-home mom of four. Her children’s health and happiness are her top priority — which both come down to safety! She started Safety Kid as a way to support other concerned moms and dads and is currently working on her first book, The A - Z Guide for Worried Parents: How to Keep Your Child Safe at Home, School, and Online.