How parents can instil self-care habits in children? Psychologist offers tips - Hindustan Times
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Teaching kids to love themselves: Here is how parents can instil self-care habits in children

Apr 12, 2023 11:36 AM IST

Helping children indulge in small acts of self-care can reduce their stress and promote mental well-being. Check out different self-care practices for children!

Self-care has become a buzzword in recent years, and for a good reason. While many view this as a selfish act of self-indulgence, it is necessary today. And as important as it is for teens and older adults, children must be introduced to self-care. Besides preparing them to handle potential stressors, it can help kids of all ages become more self-aware and introspective. When children learn to take care of themselves, they develop a sense of independence and responsibility that will serve them well in adulthood. The sooner children are taught some self-care habits and their importance; the easier it will be for them to implement these practices in their day-to-day lives. (Also read: Mental health tips: 7 unique 1-minute self care tips )

When children learn to take care of themselves, they develop a sense of independence and responsibility that will serve them well in adulthood. (freepik )
When children learn to take care of themselves, they develop a sense of independence and responsibility that will serve them well in adulthood. (freepik )

Healthy self-care habits for children:

Addressing this, Child Psychologist and Educationist, Aruna Agarwal shared with HT Lifestyle some ideas for helping children start self-care practices at an early age.

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1. Leading by example

There cannot be a better way to introduce self-care to children than modelling techniques and behaviours aligning with your lessons. Children will embrace this behaviour by observing you take care of your body, mind, and overall well-being. You can put this approach into practice by taking a little break after work hours, going on monthly weekend getaways with your friends, or developing a hobby with dedication, despite your hectic schedule. This can be easier said than done but take the first step towards being a great role model.

2. Impart routines

Having a systematic routine is imperative for children, as it helps them invest their time and energy in the right activities to stay caught up. Smaller tasks like waking up on time, brushing their hair and teeth, bathing twice a day, exercising in the park, doing regular stretches, and finishing homework before bedtime are easy to accomplish. These habits, if inculcated, will make them feel empowered upon completion. These are also the activities that they can finish on their own, with little or no supervision. Let them know that creating routines is the foundation of self-care.

3. Get them moving

Yes, children love their video games and cartoons, but it is essential for them to know that screen time isn’t the only source of entertainment. The trick is introducing them to activities that involve physical movement and mental engagement and keeping them away from screens. Perhaps, having a dance party, doing yoga in the park, baking cookies, building a fort at the beach, or playing cricket can relieve stress, boost mood, and improve a sense of balance.

4. Setting healthy boundaries

Children, too, are required to be taught to establish healthy boundaries. They constantly grow, observe, and interact with everyone around them –school friends, teachers, cousins, or relatives. Letting them know that they can communicate their discomfort and say ‘no’ to things they disagree with will teach them the importance of space and the value of personal opinions. Parents must remember that maintaining boundaries is a two-way street. If they deny accompanying you to a party or don’t feel like hugging you one day, respect their decision without taking things personally.

“Every child and family is different. While no standard self-care formula exists for children and adults, the key is normalizing these conversations. Hence, your child realizes the importance of caring for their mental and physical well-being. If you help them develop these habits now, they will most likely stick to them in their adult years.” concludes Aruna.

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