Finding time for self-care is every bit as important for kids, as it is for us grown-ups.
Sure, the second grade might not be as demanding as managing life as a working parent. But your children have a lot to balance, too, as they navigate their early years.
Then, fast forward to their teens, and self-care becomes more crucial than ever. With exam stress, social pressures, figuring out who they are, and trying to decide on their future — it’s enough to push anyone over the edge!
That’s why we’ve pulled together this guide to what self-care for kids looks like, why it’s so important, and how you can incorporate it into your child’s everyday life.
What do we mean by ‘self-care for kids’?
Beyond the hype and buzzwords, self-care is a pretty universal (and fundamental) part of day-to-day life. It refers to any activity we do to look after ourselves mentally, physically, and emotionally. This can be as simple as taking a bath and washing our face, or as specific as meditating and seeing a therapist.
For kids, self-care is all about the basics — it’s about making sure that they are as happy and as healthy as they can be. This includes having an understanding of how to keep themselves fit and well, and how to enjoy themselves and have some fun.
Why is self-care for kids so important?
Without a basic understanding of self-care, a child will struggle to find ways and strategies to look after themselves in both a physical and emotional way.
And as time passes — when children become a little less dependent on their parents — this could be extremely detrimental to a young person’s overall health. That’s why you’ll want to encourage good self-care habits from a very early age.
So how should you go about teaching this all-important skill? Let’s find out…
6 effective strategies to teach self-care for kids
Here’s how to instantly incorporate self-care into your child’s day-to-day life:
1. Cover the basics
It’s easy to think that self-care is all about the ‘added extras’ in life — warm bubble baths, meditation, and movie nights. But, actually, you’ve got to cover the basics first before any of those things are on the agenda, especially when it comes to kids.
Washing, brushing your teeth, getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, eating a healthy diet — these are all examples of self-care in its simplest form. Point that out to your kids as you work through their daily routines, and they’ll quickly begin to understand the fundamentals of self-care.
2. Include your kids in your own self-care routine
Depending on your child’s age, you can pass on self-care know-how by showing them how it’s done. Whether it’s reading a book, listening to music, or taking a few minutes to meditate, modeling ‘me time’ to your kids is one of the easiest ways to demonstrate what self-care is all about.
3. Encourage screen-free time
In the age of social media and endless technology, we need to make a conscious effort to step away from the screen. This is especially true for adults, but let’s not forget that kids, too, are similarly chained to never-ending feeds from increasingly younger ages.
Make a point of having hours where screen time is off the cards. Turn off the Wi-Fi, take away the tech, and encourage your kids to read a book, go for a walk, or simply reflect on how they’re feeling. This is a great way of incorporating self-care into your children’s lives — by pulling them away from digital words, and firmly back to reality.
4. Teach your kids that it’s okay to relax and have some fun
Kids these days are under a lot of pressure. From social media to schooling stress, care-free childhoods are quickly becoming a thing of the past. That’s why it’s your job to teach your kids that it’s their job to just be kids.
Encourage them to socialize with their friends, find hobbies, join clubs, play games, and enjoy their spare time. This is arguably one of the most important elements of self-care — to make time for yourself and the things that you enjoy.
Without it, staying happy and healthy can be tricky. So, do all you can to teach your kids that having fun is, well, fundamental!
5. Make time for exercise
Exercise is one of the best examples of self-care — it’s great for our physical health, mental health, and gets those endorphins buzzing.
Unfortunately, young people are doing less exercise today than ever before. But why not buck the trend in your household?
Start with simple family exercise routines — like walking around the local park or going swimming — and your kids will soon be familiar with the feel-good benefits of working out. Over time, you can slowly scale up your exercise regimes. And your kids might even want to exercise on their own, which would be great for their mental health and independence.
6. Finally, make self-care age-appropriate
We’ve touched on this a little already, but scaling up self-care in line with your child’s age is important, too.
For preschool and early elementary children, self-care is really just about learning how to look after yourself in the simplest way (washing, sleeping, and eating well). While kids in middle school and beyond will begin to think about it in a slightly more nuanced way. Self-care involves emotional health, which means older children and teens should be taught that sometimes they’ll need to make a challenging decision for the good of their emotional and mental health.
There’s no right or wrong here, just try and tailor your children’s self-care routines to their general development and life experiences. You’ll know when the time is right to point out new strategies, and take things to the next level. Just follow your instincts, and be there to guide your children the best you can.
It’s time for some ‘me time’
Getting your kids away from their screens, free from distraction, and ready to relax is one of the most important things you can facilitate as a parent — and that’s why teaching self-care is so integral to their health and happiness. For tips and advice on developing your child’s self-reflection, check out our article.
Follow today’s top tips and your kids will be obsessed with a different kind of ‘selfie’ (themselves!) in no time at all.
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