If you’ve been following my series on self care, you already know that I believe self care is really important! Lately, I’ve been thinking about how we can teach children about the benefits of self care from an early age and set a strong foundation that will help them prioritize self care as they get older.
Self care is defined as purposeful action that an individual takes to ensure their well-being. Well-being can include; emotional health, mental health, physical health, and spiritual health. When our children are young, we support our children in achieving well-being in each of these areas, but as our children get older they will become more independent and need to have the skills to ensure their own well being.
If children learn about the value of self care from a young age, then they may be more successful in implementing and maintaining a self care routine as they become more independent from us as their parents, caregivers and educators. Additionally, a child who recognizes the value of self care, may have an easier time later challenging the excuses that pop up and prevent us from prioritizing our self care:
Here are a few ideas that I have about how we can help our children create a foundation of understanding, appreciating and prioritizing self care.
- Help children to identify, share and process their emotions. These abilities set a foundation that allow children identify, implement and communicate about the effectiveness of self care strategies. These previous posts may be of help (Assessing Your Child’s Emotions, Building Your Child’s Feelings Vocabulary, Creative Ways to Help Children Express Their Emotions-Part One and Part Two) .
- Model use of self care strategies. Talk to your children about the self care strategies you utilize and actually USE them. Children are watching and listening to us more than we know.
- Include your children in your self care routines. In previous posts, I have shared examples of about how I have included my children in my self care routines.
- Create family self care routines and talk about the reasons behind the routines being implemented. The image I used for this blog post was a picture that I took with my children while we were exploring a local garden last week. Spending time outdoors and taking moments to notice and appreciate the beauty in nature are definitely part of the family self care routine I am trying to create with my family. Another example of a family self care routine would be taking a family walk after dinner.
- Support children in identifying individual self care practices that they may want to try. You could use my previous post on self care strategies as a starting point for discussion with your child.
- When possible, encourage your children to share their opinions about how they want to spend their time. Allow for unscheduled time in our child’s schedule, so they have an opportunity to explore their interests. Both allowing unscheduled time and including children in the creation of their schedule can help children identify what activities or strategies help them achieve well-being.
Now, I am curious. Which of the above things are you already doing? Which would you like to try? What did I miss? Please feel free to share your thoughts below.