Teaching your kids about self-care
Self-care is critical to maintaining good mental health, emotional regulation, and overall wellness. If you’ve been following us for a while, you know that we like to focus on helping our clients improve self-care habits. We focus a lot of our content here on the blog, as well as posting mindfulness tips and tricks every Monday on Instagram. We spotlight mindfulness and self-care in our content because we firmly believe everyone can benefit from better self-care and mindfulness, including our kids.
Now it’s more important than ever to teach our kids about the benefits of self-care. A good self-care routine teaches kids and teens how to self-regulate when feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Self-care is all about taking time to slow down and focus on meeting their physical and mental needs. Throughout the pandemic, our children were facing intense stress and anxiety. Between school closures, online learning, and fear of illness or the loss of loved ones, our kids really went through the wringer the last few years.
So today, we will give you some simple ways to teach your kids about self-care and help them start building a healthy routine that will benefit them throughout their lives.
Now, if you’re the parent of a kiddo under the age of 5, you’re probably thinking that your baby is too little to do self-care. Let’s face it, at this stage of childhood, there aren’t a whole lot of things that our littles can do on their own. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t start learning how to perform a self-care routine with support from a parent.
Start by encouraging your kiddo to try learning new skills like brushing their hair and teeth, washing themselves in the bath or shower, and putting on their own clothes. Keep in mind that some of these tasks may still be difficult for your child to accomplish on their own, so make sure you reassure your child that you’re there to help if they are struggling. The critical part of this is that they are at least attempting to do the activity on their own.
You can also set aside some time every day for quiet activities such as coloring, reading books, or listening to some relaxing music and focusing on deep breathing. If quiet time is challenging for your child, you can try getting active together, having a dance party, building a fort, or playing a board game. Spending time together and focusing on creating a positive experience each day is so beneficial to the growth and development of our younger kids!
Once your children are past that toddler stage and they’ve mastered many of the tasks we were working on before, it’s time to start introducing some more advanced self-care tasks. Some great things you can add to the routine at this age are things like rubbing their hands and feet with lotion, relaxing in a warm bath with a bath bomb and soft music, and journaling about their day. For family time, you can take a walk together, work on a puzzle, or start a new book series to read together.
There are also other daily tasks that you should encourage your child to start practicing each day. First, your child should be e courage’s to keep their personal space clean. A tidy bedroom promotes a more peaceful and relaxing environment. Another essential habit to develop in your kiddo is taking deep belly breaths. Have your child sit or lay down in a comfortable position and put their hands on their belly. Next, instruct them to breathe in deeply through their nose and feel their belly lifting their hands. Then have them slowly breathe out through their mouth. Deep breathing is a great way to calm our nervous system and regulate our mood. This is particularly helpful if your child is struggling with big emotions.
Once your child reaches their teenage years, it’s time to add some mindfulness techniques to their self-care routine. One of our favorites is the emotional scan. This is the practice of taking a few moments each day to sit quietly and examine our feelings without judgment. The goal is to acknowledge how they are feeling and allow themselves to be compassionate towards themselves until any negative emotions can pass. The next practice is to use our senses to calm our minds. To do this, have your teen sit quietly in a comfortable position and identify something they can see, hear, smell, feel, and taste. This practice forces your teen to slow down and recenter their brain away from any negative emotions they may be struggling with.
At this point in a young person's life, they are most likely going through puberty and have a whole new set of self-care needs. It’s important to acknowledge the changes in their body and what that means for their self-care routine. We recommend providing your teens with a self-care kit including deodorant, skin care products, lotion, cologne/perfume, hair products, and makeup (if they want) that they can use. Giving your teen the tools to take good care of their health and hygiene is a significant first step to ensuring they develop good self-care routines.
No matter what age your children are, it’s important to encourage them to prioritize self-care. Explain to your child the benefits of taking the time to meet your own needs each day. Not only will your physical health improve, but your mental health will be in a better place as well!
If you notice that your child is struggling with symptoms of stress, anxiety, or depression for an extended period of time, consider child or teen counseling for them or support for your family as well. Early intervention can help prevent long-lasting effects of unresolved grief, anxiety, or depression. Here at Georgetown Counseling and Wellness, we have multiple counselors who specialize in working with children and families to overcome these serious mental health struggles. Our therapists can help you and your child learn new techniques for navigating big emotions and ways to cope and communicate more effectively. Contact us today at 512-400-4247 for a free 10-minute consultation or schedule an appointment.