Self Care for Kids: Build Healthy Habits - Social Emotional Workshop

Self Care for Kids: Build Healthy Habits

By Laura Driscoll | Group Counseling

Jul 14

When times get tough, we all really make sure to prioritize self care and reinvest in healthy habits. HAHAHAHA. Just kidding, we keep pouring from an empty cup, eat ice cream for dinner and ignore self care til our eyes start twitching. I know it's not just me. 

And kids are no different. When the stress hits, the self-care can be the first thing to disappear.

The past few months of 2020 really pushed me to be more deliberate about my self care. It became an essential and a non-negotiable to me getting through these uncertain times. I respond well to consistency and structure, so I created a daily checklist for myself of the things I thought were most important.

Now a checklist might not be for you or your students (I see you type B), but taking care of yourself will be. Plus, there is not better and easier way to focus on self-care for kids than to teach them about healthy habits and routines. 

Why Healthy Habits

Healthy habits aren't just eating right and exercising. They are also creative activities, time with others, or time for yourself. For self care for kids and adults, you can define healthy habits as:

  • Things you do every week or every day (Consistent)
  • Help you feel calm or happy (Positive)
  • Help you handle hard things and feel good (Helpful)

Healthy habits are important. They help us manage stress and challenging situations. They protect us from negative events, like poor health. Building up routines that help us take care of our bodies, hearts and minds is a worthy investment.

Healthy Habits Activity

Building Healthy Habits

Healthy habits don't just happen. It is hard to get them to stick. There are 3 key components to help healthy activities become habits.

1. Do It Consistently

Sometimes when we start new activities, we are really excited and we go all out. Students are similar. BUT we have to take a moment and plan our new habits or we are setting ourselves up for failure. The key to building habits is figuring out how we are going to do them consistently. So we have to take stock of where they fit in and what might get in the way.

  • Where will this habit fit in my week?
  • Are there things standing in my way?
  • Is there something I need to do before I can start?

Say I want to journal more.

When will I do this? Maybe when I first get up in the morning. 

What might get in my way? Well I have to walk my dog when I get up and eat breakfast. I could walk the dog, make my breakfast and sit down with my journal after that. Maybe I'll decide to journal for 15 minutes each day. 

What do I need to do to get started? Well I need to buy a journal.

These are easy guiding questions for students or adults as they add in a healthy habit.

2. Give It Time

Habits take time to build. Eventually with consistency, they will become a normal part of your day like brushing your teeth or drinking a cup of coffee. But at the beginning, it's really about sticking with them. 

I like to plan for the moment when I'm going to decide I don't want to do it anymore or when something else is a priority. This is usually about 2 weeks in when something isn't so exciting. 

I have to decide what is my plan B? 

One of the things I do is prep a little self-talk for these moments.

  • "I don't want to restart this a couple months from now."
  • "This is just what I do now. It's not always fun, but it's helpful."
  • "What are the positive reasons I do this every day?"

3. Make Sure They Are Yours

Everyone's healthy habits will be different. Sure we should all eat right and get exercise. But you might like to play an instrument while I want to practice mindfulness. These are healthy habits too.

Make sure that healthy habits are personal and they work for you. Make sure they also take care of more than just your body.

BONUS TIPS

  • Start your day off with a healthy habit. This will set a positive tone for the rest of your day. 
  • Chain it with an established habit. You wake up every morning and brush your teeth. Add the new habit onto the routine.
  • Create a schedule for yourself for the week or for the day. Maybe it's just a schedule for that one habit. Every Sunday night, I schedule my gym classes for the week.
  • Keep it simple and focus on one new habit at a time. 
  • Daily 3 List. Make a list of three (or fewer) things you want to do or want to get done that day.
  • Make habits fun. Add in activities you like with activities that you have to do.

Takeaway

You can't pour from an empty cup. Self care is a high priority when things are challenging and they will help you handle what comes next. Take care of yourself and take care of your students.

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About the Author

Laura is a former school psychologist passionately trying to bring social-emotional learning to every student at every tier. Click here for hands-on resources for the classroom and counseling.

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