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Self-Care For Kids: Building Healthy Habits For Long-Term Well-Being

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As adults and parents, we know about self-care. We know that it’s important to take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others. 

But what about our kids?

It’s important to realize that establishing and maintaining healthy self-care habits starts early in life. The skill of self-care will be one that children will use throughout their journey into adulthood. They will need to know how to identify emotions in order to increase their independence and self-esteem. 

There are lots of things that you can do to help your child develop and maintain a self-care routine. This article will outline what exactly self-care is, the benefits of self-care in childhood, and seven ideas for self-care activities. 

What is self-care?

In its simplest form, self-care is time that a person sets aside to care of their mental and physical health. 

This looks different for every person. What is a relaxing activity for you may be a stressful experience for someone else. 

For example, some people love to run. It helps them burn energy, feel healthy, and clear their mind. But for others, going for a run would be the last thing that they would choose to do on a Saturday morning. That’s totally okay!

There are five main pillars of self-care - physical, social, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. To get the most out of your self-care routine, you should make sure to spend time working on each of these pillars. Balancing all five pillars will help you reach optimal happiness and contentment. 

Self-care practices include things like eating healthy foods, exercising, cleaning your space, vegging on the couch with your favorite TV show, repeating affirmations to yourself or hanging out with your friends. 

Really, the list goes on and on and includes anything that allows you to feel good about yourself, reset and recharge.

Benefits of self-care in young children

Instilling good self-care habits in your kids while they’re young can lead to a host of benefits as your child moves through middle school, high school and college. 

Namely, self-care teaches kids how to take care of themselves. They know how to identify and regulate their own emotions, which are foundational life skills needed to find success as an adult.

Other benefits of self-care in children include:

  • Improved mental health
  • Heightened self-awareness
  • Increased independence and self-esteem
  • Developing healthy habits and essential life skills from a young age
  • Learning to identify their physical and emotional needs so they can better handle outside stressors, especially as life becomes more and more stressful

7 Kid-friendly self-care activities to support your child‘s emotional and physical well-being

Your main goal as a parent is to set your child up for success. Self-care activities can do just that, helping them to manage stress well, improve their concentration and increase their overall happiness. 

Even when your child appears to be happy, healthy and doing well, it’s still important to prioritize self-care. They need to practice good habits while it’s easy so that they can rely on those skills when life is tougher.

1. Encourage journaling

Journaling will look different depending on how old your child is. When they’re really young, it could just be drawing pictures about their day. Then it evolves into labeling the parts of their drawing, then it will progress into full sentences like an adult's journal. 

Try to make it special by purchasing them a specific notebook that is for journaling and reflecting. Keep it in a specific place, and let them know that you will never read what is in there unless they want to share. Give them a safe space to write out all their feelings.

2. Add physical activity into your weekly routine

Find a physical activity that your child loves and schedule it into your weekly routine. This could be an organized sport, a long walk or imaginative play outside in the treehouse. Any of these is just fine! They simply need to be moving their bodies and using their muscles. The activity they want to do may even change each week. 

If you live in a climate where it’s hard to get outside and play because of the weather, look for indoor activities like rock climbing or a children’s museum. Depending on where you live, there may be lots of options. 

Or you may have to get more creative about ways for them to exercise at home. Some ideas include yoga in the living room or an obstacle course from one end of the house to the other.

3. Get involved in the community

Giving back is good for the soul. It helps address the self-care pillars of social, emotional, and spiritual wellness. 

Some favorites may be walking dogs at the local animal shelter or collecting canned goods for the food pantry. 

Try to see if any of your child interest’s can be channeled while giving back. An example of this would be a child that loves to draw, so you take them to a nursing home to draw pictures with the residents.

4. Work on mindfulness

Mindfulness exercises involve thinking about people and things that you love, respect, and struggle with. It’s being intentional in creating positive thoughts about both the great and not-so-great things in your life. 

Positive affirmations are a great activity to start with. These are short, impactful statements that speak positive words into a child’s life. Affirmations help a child focus are the great parts of themselves, building their self-esteem.

5. Practice deep breathing

Deep breathing or belly breathing can do wonders for anyone’s stress levels, including a child’s. It can be especially helpful in moments of intense emotions like anger or frustration. But it’s also a great everyday practice to feel more grounded and peaceful. 

There are many tools and even apps to help you and your child practice deep breathing. You can also choose to just use a timer to help you slow down. 

Or many apps are designed with visuals like expanding circles to help you know when to breathe in and out. It will even count how many breaths you have taken so that you can just focus on the exercise. 

6. Encourage independent learning

Many children love learning. They are eager to ask questions and soak up information like a sponge. 

So, giving them opportunities to learn more at home, especially about topics that they’re interested in, can be a form of self-care. It helps them to work on the intellectual pillar of self-care. 

This time may include screen time in some cases, but try to stay away from social media and instead focus on positive ways to use technology. There are many great learning games, like Prodigy, or other apps that will help your children progress in their learning.

7. Allow some downtime

School and after-school activities can be really stressful for some children. It’s a lot of time spent staying still and quiet, keeping their mind focused on the task at hand. 

At the end of the day, they likely need time to decompress just like you do after work. Schedule dedicated quiet time in your child’s day for them to have some downtime. Don’t plan for any specific activities to happen in this space of time. Just leave it open for them to do whatever will help them relax.

Self-care tips for parents: lead by example

Child smiles and plays with her parents as they write in a journal together.

Like everything in life, your children learn from you by watching what you do. This is exactly the case with self-care. When they see you prioritizing healthy habits, they will be more likely to choose healthy habits themselves. 

Here are some tips for practicing self-care as a parent:

  • Exercise often 
  • Make healthy foods for yourself
  • Schedule and prioritize time with friends
  • Practice mindfulness (by yourself and with your child)
  • Take alone time for yourself and explain to your child why it is important for both of you to respect each other’s alone time

Build a great self-care routine for your children with Prodigy

Healthy self-care habits are important for everyone at every point in their life. Self-care teaches skills like awareness of emotions, ways to lower stress levels, and better emotional regulation. 

Our children need these skills to be successful throughout life, so we should prioritize teaching the importance of self-care routines early on.

Prodigy is a great resource for this because it provides activities that are appropriate for your child’s age and skill levels without you needing to know exactly what they’re learning in the classroom. It also adapts the learning experience to work extra on any trouble areas. You can know exactly what they’re working on from the easy-to-navigate parent dashboard. 

Prodigy Math and Prodigy English can help your child achieve learning independence, boost their self-esteem, and make them passionate about learning new skills. Learn more below!

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