Self-Care: A Child Perspective


Advice From My Kids on Self-Care for Yours

By Erika Englund, CSO

In honor of self-esteem month and our goal to get all children the support they deserve, we ask, what is “self-care for kids”. The phrase “self-care” might conjure up an image of a woman in a bathtub, hair wrapped in towel, eyes draped in cucumber slices, but self-care for kids looks very different.

For adults, it can be incredibly challenging to understand and prioritize our own well-being needs. If we’re able to raise children with the concept of self-care, they can create a lifelong practice of sustaining their own physical, mental, and spiritual wellness. This is especially useful for children growing up with divorced parents. As they’re likely to experience greater stressors, they need to build a self-care arsenal now.

This seems like a lot to ask of a child – so I talked to my own kids about self-care in our single-parent household. They had plenty to say, proving that children not only understand the concept, they also enjoy feeling empowered to care for themselves. Here’s a bit of our conversation:

Mom: “What does ‘self-care’ mean?

Spence, age 8: “It means taking care of yourself, like being active and being healthy.”

Mom: “Is self-care only for grown-ups?

Spence: “No! Kids should do it because then when they are grown-ups they will know how. And they will teach their kids. And their kids will teach their kids. It will go on and on.”

Mom: “What are ways you can engage in self-care for kids?”

Bryn, age 10: “Playing with pets or being with animals, and reading.”

Spence: “Going to the park and running around is good because it gets you moving and it gets your heart beating and your blood pumping!”

Bryn: “You can meditate to take care of your mental health. If you have a hard day, taking a cool shower helps. Or taking time to be by yourself.”

Mom: “What else?”

Bryn: “To keep yourself healthy, you should eat the right stuff…like oats and Cheerios, and fruit and vegetables.”

Spence: “If you are upset, think about happy things. Or use your breathing ball.”

Mom: “What can a child do to keep their spirit and soul happy?”

Bryn: “Things that make me calm make my spirit happy. Being with animals and helping people makes my soul happy.”

Spence: “I’ve never thought about that, mama. I guess my heart and soul just stay happy all the time.”

Use National Self-Care Month as an opportunity to talk about self-care for kids. What is it? What ways can they do it?Choose a few things you can help them do, like shop for healthy foods. And, next time they’re having a rough day, empower them to care for their own well-being by circling back to your conversation, and asking them which of their favorite care techniques they would like to deploy.

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