Today's kids are under a lot of different kinds of stressors, and teaching them self-care practices at an early age can help them create a better overall balance in their lives. It can also teach them how to self-regulate, self-soothe, and better manage their emotions. Here are some tips on how you can model self-care.
Why Are Kids Stressed?
Kids today are faced with a bombardment of constant information via social media, online gaming, and 24/7 access to technology. According to the American Psychological Association, they also have stressors associated with school, part-time jobs, interpersonal relationships, sports, and academic performance. As such, it's important to help them manage their mental, emotional, and physical state of well-being. Learning good self-care habits as kids can lead to a better overall quality of adult life, including reduced stress and anxiety and adoption of healthy coping skills.
Modeling Good Behavior
Kids listen, watch, and emulate their parents in numerous ways. If they see you getting stressed out drinking too much coffee or alcohol, eating junk food, or vocally hating your job, they’re likely to see this as a normal coping method. However, if you acknowledge stressful situations and demonstrate ways that you are battling stressors in a responsible and healthy way, they too will be more likely to follow your lead and take up healthy practices. This might include eating nutritious foods, getting adequate rest, and taking screen breaks. According to Kelty Mental Health Resource Center, teaching kids how to self-soothe through relaxation breathing can also be beneficial.
Self-Care Measures for Kids
In addition to sleeping adequately, exercising, and eating well, teach kids meditative practices through yoga or tai chi. They can also start a gratitude journal to focus on the things that are positive in their lives. Relaxation response is another way to reduce anxiety and can be practiced just about anywhere. Kids can also learn to relax through listening to music, playing music, creating art, or being in nature. Help your child identify what helps them feel well mentally, physically, and spiritually, and guide them in finding appropriate outlets for practicing regular self-care measures.
Help Them Develop a Sense of Adventure
Kids are natural explorers. They're curious about the world around them and love to find out what's over the next hill. As parents, it's our job to foster that sense of curiosity and adventure in our kids. And it turns out that teaching our kids to be adventurous is actually a form of self-care. When we encourage our kids to take risks and explore, we're helping them develop important skills like problem-solving and creative thinking. And when we spend time together exploring new places, we're creating memories that will last a lifetime.
Helping Kids Find Balance
In addition to self-care measures, parents can model a number of other wellbeing practices that can help their children live healthy and well-balanced lives. Model healthy meal preparation by taking your kids shopping and helping them follow recipes. Avoid being a perfectionist, as this establishes unrealistic expectations. Encourage kids to try new things, and praise them whether they succeed or fail. Also encourage them to be open and talk about worries, fears, and concerns. Your child could be stressing about something they've seen online or read through an online source, and you can help them identify what's real, what's not real, and how to make sense of it all.
Letting Kids Say No
Kids today are often over-scheduled. Between school, part-time jobs, extracurricular activities, and family and friend social obligations, it can become overwhelming. Help your kids make smart choices about time management, and let them know they don’t have to say yes to everything. Part of self-care is in being your own advocate and being able to have some agency over yourself. While some things like school attendance are non-negotiable, you can help your kids find healthy ways to choose how they spend their time and energy.
If we all took time out for a little bit of self-care, it’s likely we’d all be healthier, happier, and more mentally and physically fit. Teaching your kid these valuable habits when they're young can help them take these measures into adulthood in a positive way.
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