Early Life Experiences That Encourage Lifelong Self-Care in Children
Author: Julie A. Morris
Oxford Languages describe self-care as, “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.” This means both physically and emotionally. Unfortunately, children don’t often learn how to promote wellness from within. As parents, it’s up to us to both model behaviors and teach actions that help our young ones flourish and prosper through life, starting with how they treat themselves.
Self-confidence is directly related to self-care. After all, you care for yourself, you’re more confident. There are many ways that you can instill confidence in even the youngest group. A few ideas include:
- Travel. Eat, Play, Travel has discussed how to keep children happy while traveling before, but the joy felt while traveling follows them through their lifetime. Kids who experience lots of different cultures will be less intimidated as they move into the adult world, where they are likely to run into people from all walks of life. They will likely also be more open to new experiences and less shy about trying new things around new people. Traveling helps kids break out of their comfort zone, particularly as they get older and head out for a solo sojourn.
- Give them chores. Okay, so chores aren’t necessarily fun, but having responsibilities from an early age is one of the greatest ways you can instill self-confidence in your kids. Further, offering them an allowance shows them a direct correlation between work and reward. Perhaps most importantly, doing chores teaches your kids valuable life skills, which they can learn in a safe place, allowing them to make mistakes without long-term consequences.
Erasing Negative Self-Image
According to Cleveland Clinic, self-image is developed during childhood. Children are mirrors for ourselves, so modeling best behaviors and practicing self-love from the time your children are born is crucial. A few ideas to help you and your children create a positive self-image, which is a form of self-care, include:
- Define and accept your positive qualities. Children today are overcome with social media, and they often believe that what they see on their screens reflects reality. This can leave them looking in the mirror seeing a “real” person and believing that this is inferior without realizing that their screen time is anything but reality. Help your children identify their positive qualities, such as intelligence, bravery, humor, athletic abilities, typing skills, and appreciativeness.
- Try new things. Trying new things not only boosts self-confidence in the moment, but it can also lead to feeling better about oneself long-term. For example, trying new foods when no one else will make a child a leader in their peer group. They will then have an opportunity to revel in the fact that they are ahead of their friends and fearless and they will also be in a better position to continue to lead and influence other people in a positive way throughout their teen and young adult years.
Self-care is also in the actions that we take to make ourselves look and feel our very best. A few ideas that you can do with kids include:
- Go for pedicures. Sally Beauty explains that pedicures control calluses, improve circulation, and ensure neat and trimmed nails, all while keeping the feet cute and clean.
- Insist on plenty of sleep. Kids need anywhere from nine to 14 hours of sleep, so establish a healthy sleeping routine, and stick to it.
- Listen to music. Music can change the mood of any situation. If your kids need to calm down, put on something slow and mellow. Need them to wake up in the morning? Pop, rock, and dance to the rescue.
- Eat well. Food is the fuel that pushes the body and mind forward. Eat healthy but also don’t be shy about indulging in the occasional treat.
Ultimately, the behaviors that we model today reflect in our children throughout their lives. If you want your children to take care of themselves, show them how. The above ideas can help, and you may just find that equipping your children with the experiences they need as adults now will improve their self-esteem and ability to recognize when they need to give themselves a bit of extra pampering.
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