We want our children to be happy and healthy, and a huge part of everyone’s mental and emotional health is making sure we take time to care for ourselves. This is probably something you know, but are you doing it? Maybe not! One of the biggest reasons why parents don’t take time out for self-care is that they worry that other people (often non-parents or parents who are stressed out themselves) might think that that they are being ”selfish” or not paying enough attention to their kids. But taking time for self-care is NOT selfish . In fact, it is a super important opportunity to teach your children how they should take care of themselves one day.
Children learn so much about how to be a person by what they see the adults in their lives doing. This is why we frequently write about the importance of modeling a new skill for your child as well as teaching them how to do it. How can we expect our kids to learn to do something as vague as self-care when we do not model the behaviors ourselves on a regular basis? To teach children the importance of taking care of oneself, we have to display the behaviors and actually take the time to practice our own self-care.
And as for not paying attention to your kids? Well, self-care will help you pay BETTER attention! I’m sure you have had the experience of how difficult it is to respond to even small irritants with patience when you are feeling drained, overwhelmed, and exhausted. And children by their very nature are testing what they can and cannot do. So, they are guaranteed to need a great deal of patience and stability from the adults in their world! It is necessary that parents (and teachers) take time to care for their mental, physical, and emotional needs because this self-care is crucial to their ability to be the best caregivers they can be for their kids. Children need adults who can help them regulate their responses to stress, uncertainty, and hard times, because this is how they develop the ability to do it for themselves. When adults work on their own self-care, they are more capable of being the calm, consistent caregiver kids need to help them regulate their emotions and reactions when things are hard.
We often place so much concern on academics and physical development for children, when mental and emotional health is just as crucial to success in life. But developing health and well-being abilities in children is as easy as practicing your own self-care strategies. So the next time your inner critic pipes up with guilt about taking time to take care of yourself with thoughts like, “Ooooh, but what about the children?” you can respond with, “Exactly! I am doing this for my kids!”
Text: © Kids In Transition to School 2019
Image: © Fitzkes | Dreamstime.com