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Parents' Guide to Encouraging Self-Care for Their Children

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

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Parents often focus on teaching their children how to care for others. However, because many people think of childhood as a carefree time of life, not as much emphasis is placed on teaching children to care for themselves. Self-care helps kids gain a better understanding of their emotional and physical needs and prepares them to deal with stress in healthy ways. This guide from the Lincoln County Community Health Council can help you discover ways to introduce these healthy habits into your child’s life.

Role Model Self-Care

One of the best ways to encourage your children to practice self-care is to model this behavior for your children. Build a self-care foundation by making sure your basic needs are met. Create and stick to a consistent sleep schedule. Drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet that includes vegetables and fruits.

When your kids see you sticking to your sleep schedule, eating healthy food, and drinking water they are more likely to adopt the same habits. Incorporate activities that help you relax, such as playing games, watching a TV show, reading a book, or listening to music. Include your children in these activities. Start teaching your kids how to say no by not immediately responding to every demand on your time your kids make.

Create a Healthy Home Environment

In addition to changing your behaviors, modify your home environment to promote health and peace. Declutter your space and teach your kids to put their things away. Add house plants and lighting. Use an oil diffuser with calming scents.

Make Your Kids a Priority

When schedules get busy, quality time with your kids can fall by the wayside. Incorporate spending time with your kids into your schedule. For example, you could take some time to read a story to your kids at bedtime, have your kids help you with household chores, and plan new experiences you can participate in together.

Encourage Your Kids To Exercise

According to experts, kids need a minimum of one hour of exercise every day. Young children can meet their physical activity needs through structured and unstructured play. Older children and teens should incorporate moderate-intensity aerobic activities, such as running, walking, playing sports, and biking into their routines.

Make a Calm-Down Box

If your child tends to get overstimulated, constructing a calm-down box can help your child learn to self-soothe. Include items that soothe your child's senses, such as a stuffed animal, fidget toy, stress ball, lollipop, bubble wrap, and scratch and sniff stickers.

Pay attention to your child's behavior. When your child appears to be approaching the threshold, encourage the child to use the items in the box to calm down. Use positive language when discussing this activity. You don't want your child to think being sent to the box is a punishment. With enough practice, your child should learn to seek out the box when in need of soothing.

Teach Your Kids To Help Others

It may seem counter-intuitive, but the best self-care can be doing something for someone else. Doing things for other people can help your children take their minds off whatever is troubling them. Your child can do something nice for a teacher, sibling, parent, or friend or do community work, such as picking up trash.

The better equipped your kids are to handle stress, the less likely they are to suffer the consequences of poorly managed stress. Teaching your kids self-care equips them with techniques they can use throughout their lives to cope with stress in their environment.

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