Self-Care for Kiddos: 5 Ways to Boost Wellness
4 Minute Read: Self-care, kids, mom life, wellness, holistic, parenting.
Self-care is essential to staying healthy and living a more vital, ease-filled version of ourselves. As a doctor and coach, part of my job is helping clients craft routines and systems that support self-care…and foster body-mind wellness.
Beyond self-care for “Big People,” what about kids? How can we provide the “Little People” in our lives with a solid self-care foundation? How can we nurture mindful attention to their body-mind needs?
No question, the number one way is to offer a supportive model. How are we showing up in our own lives? Are we doing what we need to do to stay healthy and feel good?
Kids are particularly perceptive and are taking it all in, whether consciously or not. Modelling supportive practices is exponentially more powerful than pushing or nagging. (Same goes when trying to influence the self-care habits of “Big People” in our lives, say partners or friends ;).
Beyond that, supporting self-care for "Little People" can be super sweet and simple. Here are...
5 Ways to Boost Kid Wellness + Well-being
Always, always, always, real food is a powerful starting point. Eating simple, nutrient-dense food makes us feel better. Conversely, a diet high in processed foods and refined sugars can cause or worsen allergies, ear aches, behavioural problems and mood disorders.
Rather than turn healthy eating into a “me vs. you” struggle, partner with your kid to make dietary changes together. I have a post on that here.
It’s not just what we eat, but how we eat it that matters. Model and encourage slow, mindful meals. Ask open questions and foster curiosity around what kids are eating, why they feel like eating, what emotions or needs might be triggering eating, and how different foods make them feel – both while eating…and after.
Rather than compartmentalize “exercise” and highlight “fitness goals,” encourage kids to embrace natural movement and its impact on body and mind. Prompt them to get curious about breathing during a walk or run…or to enjoy play during a soccer game or dance recital instead of focusing on outcomes.
Look outside the “grade-school gym box,” and point to the many, many ways we can move our bodies. Encourage exploration, wonder and delight in our physical form and all it can do. Invite investigation of how movement makes them feel physically and mental-emotionally.
Often overlooked, connection is as important as nourishing food and movement. Indeed, the core “why” behind supportive eating and movement is being connected to our true wants and needs. Coming from this place, we can find true connection with others.
Encourage kids to get in touch with what they’re truly wanting and needing. Make it safe for them to ask for support. This may mean reaching out to those closest to them, or even exploring mental health on their own.
From a place of true connection – both to self and others – arises authentic, honest expression. Expression of any form (whether through words, art, music, journaling, or something wholly different) supports emotional and physical “free flow.” It allows for a more vital, complete manifestation of our human-being-ness.
A simple practice for kids is keeping a “journal of little gifts.” Help them create a special notebook where they write or draw three things they’re grateful for each day. More generally, allow abundant, safe space for anything they’re feeling, without shaming or judgement.
5 Time in Nature
Lastly, encourage kids to look beyond “this human stuff” and connect with Nature. Time outdoors not only supports a healthy immune system, but also mental-emotional well-being.
Encourage them to play in grass and dirt…gaze at clouds and stars…observe the changing seasons. Cultivate excitement for the natural world and their place in this wondrous Universe!
Ultimately, self-care for kids doesn’t look all that different from self-care for grownups. And really, it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Model healthy eating, movement, connection, expression and time in Nature. Teach through doing rather than dictating.
Your kids – and YOU – are designed for this stuff! Our whole bodies and minds crave it. We only need to return to what’s simple, natural and healing.