Teaching Your Children Self-Care

A child’s ability to take care of themselves is about more than just dressing and undressing, brushing their teeth, and using the restroom independently. While these skills are important for physical health and self-reliance, good emotional habits are also critical for a child’s well-being.

The past year has been a trying time for all of us. If your kids are struggling with the effects that COVID-19 continues to have on their daily life, a little self-care can go a long way. Here are some tips for teaching healthy emotional habits to your children.

  • Exercise daily: As little as 20 minutes of moderate daily exercise may help prevent symptoms of depression, making it an essential part of self-care. To make exercise fun, help your kids find an activity they love, such as skateboarding, biking, or playing fitness video games.
  • Minimize media usage: Excessive social media and screen time can lead to increased distress to your child, provide them with other worthwhile ways to pass their time.
  • Teach stress management: When you know a stressful event is coming up, it helps to discuss it with your children in advance. Help them understand that everyone goes through challenges and they’re not alone in facing hard times. Then, suggest ways to cope, including play time, mindfulness, and yoga.
  • Find kid-friendly self-care resources online: You’ll find many mobile apps and websites offering mindfulness activities and yoga exercises to make these self-care techniques more accessible to your children.
  • Be open about your emotions: There’s a stigma against negative emotions in our society, but it’s healthier to experience and process normal levels of anxiety, stress, and anger than to stuff these feelings down. When your children get upset, reflect and validate their emotions without trying to offer a quick fix. Don’t insist that they calm down right away before having a chance to experience the full depth of their feelings.
  • Encourage downtime every day: As with adults, children can often be over-scheduled. They may be so busy with school, clubs, and extracurricular activities that they have little to no downtime. Cancel some of your children’s obligations so they have time to spend engaged in unstructured play and to relax with the family.
  • Be a good role model: If you expect your kids to exercise every day or spend less time on their phones/devices, practice what you preach. You can also use your need for downtime as an example of how important it is to let your body and mind relax.
  • Practice self-care as a family: Get everyone on board with the concept of self-care so it’s easy to share experiences and tips with one another. Not only can this improve each person’s self-care routine, but it may also help you grow closer as a family.
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