Self-care Tips for Parents and Kids

“To be a good parent, you need to take care of yourself so that you can have the physical and emotional energy to take care of your family.” – Michelle Obama

Parents often focus so much on their children that they have no time for themselves, more so during the pandemic. Self-care can be one of the best ways for parents to not only meet their own needs, but also their family responsibilities. Once you view self-care through the accurate lens, it’s easy to see that it’s anything but self-centered. Self-care habits are sustainable and help us stay healthy and thriving. Self-indulgent habits, like binging on Netflix or food tend to be short-term fixes rather than actual answers.

Did you know that the best way to teach your children about self-care is to model it yourself

Self-care can have the same effects in preserving your child’s mental and physical health as it does for you. Try to integrate activities into your everyday schedule that teach your child self-care, too.

Practicing self-care techniques is as important for your family’s needs as it is for your own. By eating well, sleeping enough, and discovering ways to meet your personal needs, you’ll be better able to care of your children and fulfil other household tasks.

Self-care and mental health are connected

Neglecting your self-care routine can have a negative impact on your emotional well-being. Sleep is a key element of both emotional and physical self-care, yet so many parents neglect it. Aim to get at least seven hours of sleep every night, if possible.

Try to do one thing every day that enhances your mental or physical health somehow. You could go on a walk after dinner or call a loved one you haven’t seen in a while. Enroll in Yoga or Qi gong classes. Download some self-care apps that have a few minutes of well-being just a tap away – be it listening to a mindfulness meditation, podcast or an audiobook.

Self-reflection is also a crucial part of self-care, so spend some time with your self-care journal deliberate on what you really need and reflect every day on how you took care of your health.

Emotional intelligence can be inculcated early

Emotional intelligence allows kids to act on feelings in an effective way. Encourage your child to talk about the feelings that come with challenges. Have your child’s name the emotion (“angry,” “sad,” “jealous”). Then ask, “Why do you feel this way?” You can do the same when your child has a positive experience.

Take time to look back at specific situations and talk about how your child has responded. Offer constructive praise if your child reacted in a constructive way. Use tough situations as learning opportunities. Talk about what your child can do when she’s feeling a certain way or facing a challenge.

Self-care for kids

Most kids hardly think about self-care. But we should be mindful that kids go through different emotions in their lives, just like the grownups. In fact, with the pandemic, some kids are more anxious than ever and they don’t always have the necessary tools and techniques to help them self-regulate.

Self-regulation is about possessing ways to calm down in the face of stress and anxiety. It’s a skill that develops over time and with practice. And being able to soothe yourself is an important step to being more resilient.

Here are five activities kids can use to self-regulate (that they can practice without any help from grownups):

  1. Use starfish breathing

The aim of this activity is to slow down your thoughts by focusing on breathing and touch. Starfish or belly breathing allows you to notice and name feelings before reacting to them.

Here’s how to starfish breathe:

  • Hold out one hand with your fingers spread wide, like a starfish.
  • With the other hand, use your index (pointer) finger to trace the “starfish” around the fingers.
  • Start at the wrist and breathe in while slowly tracing from the outside of your thumb to the top of your thumb.
  • Inhale through your nose for the whole upward tracing movement.
  • Then breathe out through your mouth while tracing down toward the inside of the thumb.
  • Continue breathing and tracing the whole starfish.

2. Focus with the 5-4-3-2-1 method

This mindfulness technique helps you focus more on what’s happening around you and less on any anxious thoughts you may be having. To use the 5-4-3-2-1 method, take a deep breath and focus on what’s around you. Notice and name:

  • 5 things you can see, like a desk or a clock or a water stain on the ceiling. It doesn’t matter how large or small.
  • 4 things you can feel or touch, like the pencil you’re holding, your shirt, or even the ground under your feet.
  • 3 things you can hear, like the tick of the clock, the buzz of an overhead light, or the sound of your own breathing.
  • 2 things you can smell. You could sniff your hands for a whiff of soap or hand sanitizer.
  • 1 thing you can taste. It’s not always easy to find a pleasant taste, but even a sip of water has a taste to it.

3. Mindful affirmations

An affirmation is an empowering statement that you can repeat to yourself. Help kids come up with empowering phrases or mantras they can say over and over again to crowd out negative thoughts. “I can do it” or “I am strong” are good choices. Once they have an affirmation, it helps to write it down and keep it somewhere visible to remember and say to oneself.

4. Rock (or roll)

If kids are experiencing strong emotions or a sensory overload, rocking or swaying can help calm their nervous system.

Here are some ways to do this:

  • Rock in a rocking chair or swivel in a swivel chair.
  • Lie stomach down on an exercise ball and roll back and forth.
  • Sway back and forth to soft music.

6. Put emotions into words or art

Journaling or drawing can help self-regulate. Encourage the kids to “draw/ write about what they see in their head.”

Seeing or hearing what’s on their mind can help to step back from the overwhelming emotion and can help isolate facts from emotions and make it easier to reflect on how to handle a problem using their inner resources. Sometimes, it’s less about figuring out a solution and more about understanding what seems so hard or overwhelming.

Learning to manage emotions is a life-long process. Children develop this skill at different levels, and it’s quite usual for children and adolescents to go through stages where they are more or less able to skillfully cope with powerful emotions. However, if your child consistently has trouble coping with painful emotions, consider seeking professional support.

Published by Social Dragonfly

An inclusive and holistic community to promote personal growth and holistic well-being. We offer personal and group sessions using Expressive and Creative arts modalities in a therapeutic way.

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