Teaching our kids about self-care provides them with a life-long skill that will help them grow up knowing how to reconnect with their inner selves in order to maintain their emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health.
In this blog post, I'll be talking about self-care for kids–how they learn it (or don't), why it's important, self-care ideas and recommended tools and books.
Self-Care for Kids
In the Dwell in Magic Facebook group, I was noticing that a lot of people coming in were requesting how to teach sacred self-care to their kids. Every week we have Self-Care Sundays and much of this blog post is derived from that discussion I started on this topic.
So what is sacred self-care? It's the kind of self-care that connects you back to yourself and to the Divine, however you choose to see that; it could be the Universe, Source, Goddess, God, or your subconscious.
Children are in need of this kind of connection just as much as we are. By teaching them how to incorporate sacred self-care, you are helping them to cement a foundation of support upon which they can rely on throughout their life.
The most crucial way kids learn self-care (or don't)
I feel like I first teach self-care to my kids through my example–they see me taking time for self-care and I name it as such. I believe they HAVE to see you deeming yourself worthy enough for self-care in order for them to grow up and deem themselves worthy enough for it.
So many moms feel guilty for taking time for self-care, but has anyone thought about what that teaches your children?
Do you want them to grow up and feel guilty for taking care of themselves? For taking time to reset and do things that bring them joy and inner peace? Do you want your child to feel on the brink of constant exhaustion, overwhelm, and anxiety without having the tools to help them overcome it?
Taking time for self-care doesn't mean that you leave your children for hours a day to go "do you". It's not selfish; it's actually the opposite.
It's taking time to fill yourself back up so you can show up better in your family's lives. By doing this, you'll also be teaching your children by example that this is a healthy coping mechanism for creating a happier, more joy-filled life.
Why self-care is important for kids to learn
Both girls and boys need to learn how to integrate self-care into their lives from a young age.
For girls, I think it’s extremely important because we as women know our nurturing tendency is to put everyone and the kitchen sink before ourselves, and society encourages it. Let her know SHE matters from a young age and that she can’t help others if she isn’t helping herself first.
For boys, I think it’s extremely important because society separates them from their emotions and pushes them to “man up” and keep going. Let him know that strong men are connected to themselves, listen to their emotions and bodies, and they can’t help others if they’re neglecting their inner selves.
They all need to know how crucial self-care is for their happiness, just as crucial as physical exercise or eating well.
Regularly ask them how they’re feeling so they get used to checking in with themselves. I try to keep an ongoing dialogue about self-care; I explain to them that when we feel overwhelmed, it’s really nice to go and sit by ourselves with some of our favorite things so we can calm down.
I let them explore my self-care area. They love my essential oil sprays and crystals, so I’ll spritz them and lay a crystal on top of them. Let them see what you do to help yourself calm down.
Create a sacred space just for them
Lots of people create a time-out spot for their children, but what about a time-in spot? (A recent term I heard from a friend). A spot in the house where they can go to that is just theirs.
You could place a bean bag chair with a basket of their favorite books next to it. Maybe add some soothing elements like a soft rug and string lights. Let them know this is their self-care area, where they can come and be by themselves or with you to take some deep breaths and get away from the noise.
Self-care ideas for kids
Self-care can look a little different for children; they've got lots of energy that needs to be released and they also can't verbalize their feelings as well as we can. So physical activity as well as creative outlets are very helpful for children to release their feelings, anxiety, and fears.
Here are some self-care ideas that are great for children:
- Going for a walk with mom or dad
- Retreating to a quiet place and doing a quiet activity to reset themselves (very helpful for highly sensitive children)
- Taking deep breaths
- Telling others what they need in the moment with assistance from mom or dad
- Drawing or painting their feelings
- Petting their cat or dog
- Watching a funny movie
- Eating whole foods that make them feel good
- Taking an epsom salt bath to detox and relax (I use a cup for my kids' bath and 2 cups for mine)
- Reading empowering books
- Going on a one-on-one date with mom or dad
- Sitting in their special area with their favorite things
- Listening to music
- Pulling an oracle card with mom or dad
- Squishing play doh or putty
- Going to the playground to burn off anxious energy
Self-care tools for kids
In today's fast paced world, a lot of children are shuffled through their days. A lot of us, myself included, forget that the daily stresses can get to children as well. They also need down time and time to recharge. They need to fill their cup up just like we do.
Add empowering books to their collection about self-love. Expose them to yoga for kids (there’s books and YouTube videos they can use) because it teaches them deep breathing and connecting with their bodies and minds.
Let them pick out their own crystals to add to their self-care area.
Teach them how to wind down at night with soft lighting and lowered noise level. Get them an oracle deck for kids and allow them to pick their own cards, which will teach them to listen to their intuition, trust themselves, and connect with their higher power.
Below are some tools that help children to slow down, connect, and cultivate a healthy self-love for themselves.
I think books are so, so crucial for all of us in helping to build us up and understand the world in a positive way. These are some of my favorites for kids:
- Unstoppable Me!: 10 Ways to Soar Through Life
- Incredible You
- Good-bye, Bumps!: Talking to What's Bugging You
- I Believe in Me
- On My Way to a Happy Life
- Wilma Jean the Worry Machine
- Tiger-Tiger, Is it True? Four Questions to Make You Smile Again
- I Can Handle It (Mindful Mantras)
Yoga for kids
- Good Night Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Bedtime Story
- Good Morning Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Wake Up Story
- Cosmic Kids Yoga - YouTube Channel
- Children's Spirit Animal Cards (we LOVE these, they open such a great discussion and really help your child to discover feelings they may not know how to express).
- Cherub Angel Cards for Children
Self-care truly is an art and one that will stay with your child throughout their lifetime, as well their children's lives and THEIR children's lives. It combats stress, mental disorders, and that general feeling of a life with no excitement or power.
And remember, if you want to teach your children to love and take care of themselves, you need to first show them by example. Love yourself, and in doing so you'll be showing your children how to do the same for themselves one day.
I hope you enjoyed this post. What are some of your favorite ways to help integrate self-care in your child's life? I'd love to know in the comments below.
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Jessica Dimas is the creator of Sacred Self-Care for Moms.