Self Care for Kids: Build Healthy Habits 

By Laura Driscoll
Read Time:  min
Self care is more than a bubble bath.

When times get tough, we prioritize self-care and reinvest in healthy habits. HAHAHAHA. Just kidding, we keep pouring from an empty cup, eating ice cream for dinner, and ignoring 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 and years have pushed me to be more deliberate about self-care. It became an essential and non-negotiable to me getting through uncertain times. I respond well to consistency and structure, so I created a daily checklist of the things I thought were most important.

The week before a break can feel busier than ever. All the schedule changes, anticipation, and extra sugar are bound to lead to unexpected meltdowns. Being a school counselor is

5 Essential Self Care Tips for School Counselors Before Holiday Breaks

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 no 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 essential. They help us manage stress and challenging situations. They protect us from adverse events, like poor health. Building routines that help us care for our bodies, hearts, and minds is a worthy investment.

Download the free digital lesson in my store.

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.

Do It Consistently

Sometimes, when we start new activities, we are 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 will do them consistently. So, we must take stock of where they fit in and what might get in the way.

  • Where will this habit fit into 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. 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 to a healthy habit.

Give It Time

Habits take time to build. Eventually, with consistency, they will become a regular 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 two weeks in when something isn't exciting anymore. 

I have to decide what is my plan B.

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

  • "I don't want to restart this a couple of 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?"

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.


  • 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 practice to the routine.
  • Create a schedule for yourself for the week or the day. It could be 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. 
  • Free Daily 3 List. List 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.

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

Self Care Activities

Self Care SEL Worksheets

Five no prep 15-minute SEL worksheets you can use to teach self care and healthy habits. These print-and-go worksheets will help students learn how to take care of their bodies, their minds, and their hearts. 

Healthy Choices SEL Worksheets

Five no prep 15-minute SEL worksheets you can use to teach students about making healthy choices that help them feel good physically and emotionally.

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I’m a school psychologist who left her office (closet?) and got busy turning a decade of experience into ready to use counseling and SEL resources.

I live in New York City with my adventurous husband and relaxed to the max daughter who’ve grown to appreciate my love of a good checklist.

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  1. Hi! I think this is great, I am focusing on self-care for teachers, and this is a great way to have kids and teachers supporting each other as we are all navigating a very challenging educational landscape. Thanks for this resource!

  2. I downloaded this checklist, I love the idea!
    Healthy habits are something to teach children and give them the right example. In addition to this checklist, you can also use a playful approach. – here you can find ideas for educational games, as well as interesting lesson plans and developmental activities. Maybe for someone, it will be as useful as for me.

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