Must-have skills for children #10: practicing self-care

Just like it’s important to brush and floss your teeth regularly to avoid cavities, it’s important to exercise proper mental health before you burn out. This is something you can do with the help of self-care. Self-care is all about creating the proper routines and lifestyle choices to take care of your body and mind before you need it. And if you need self-care, your child needs it, too.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more children suffer from stress and anxiety than ever before, and this may worsen as they age. The earlier you introduce self-care to your child, the better they can handle stress down the road. Think of it as a preventative measure to fight off stress and dial up joy in your child’s life!  

Teach them about the importance of self-care, and then guide them with tips, such as…

Exercise Habits for a Healthy Body
Proper physical health allows for proper mental health. For your child to show themselves love, they need to care for their body by exercising proper habits. Even slight dehydration can cause a drop in mood, lower performance, and affect the memory, so your child needs to make sure they are drinking enough every day. They should also move around to increase circulation in the body and the brain, which boosts the mood and improves thinking.

What may seem to be basic orders of the day are the foundation of good self-care. Your child should practice incorporating these into their daily routines. They can track their daily water intake, turn off their phone at night for better sleep, join a sports team, and eat their greens in the name of self-care.

Reward Yourself—You Deserve It
The hustle mindset is so deeply ingrained in modern times that people have a hard time allowing themselves breaks. They work, work, work, then feel guilty when they’re not working, which is why the hustle culture has been criticized as damaging to mental health. Breaks are important and well-deserved rewards for productivity or hardships. No one should feel bad for taking them. Let your child practice this mindset as early as possible. This way, they can take care of their mental health and energy, preventing burnout and depression.  

“Being always on can create a constant sense of anxiety and
like there is always something we should be doing.”
Dr. Alice Boyes

On top of breaks, your child should get in the habit of allowing themselves rewards or treats. Depending on their age, you can provide these or they can practice rewarding themselves. They can indulge in a slice of chocolate cake, watch their favorite movie, purchase a game they wanted for weeks, or host a dance party! They should realize that they deserve to feel good, particularly after completing a task or experiencing a challenge. This helps them release tension and prepare for the next task and reward for a positive cycle.

Quiet the Mind to Relax
A TV break could be a good reward for hard work, but too much screen time can overload the senses, leading to irritation and impatience. The same thing happens when your child is overthinking or multi-tasking, which hinders the brain’s ability to sort information. So what can your child do to ease all this pressure on their brain?

They can focus on one task by engaging in a hobby, like reading or writing, in peaceful silence. Even when tackling schoolwork or chores, they should pay attention to one rather than multiple things at a time. Otherwise, they’ll feel overwhelmed and become scatterbrained, which actually slows down the whole process! Your child can also leave behind all the hustle and bustle by going to a quiet place, enjoying time alone, meditating, or taking a walk in nature.  

Practice Self-Compassion

“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”
Jack Kornfield

Your child may show great compassion for others, but are they showing themselves the same care and attention? In a society that might shun the idea of the “self” as “selfish” or “self-centered,” your child might put others before themselves too often. They may repress their feelings in an unhealthy way or be too hard on themselves.  

Instead, they should rediscover the good in thinking about themselves through terms like “self-care,” “self-love,” and “self-compassion.” Self-compassion is knowing there is nothing wrong with not having all of the answers and asking others for help. It is forgiving themselves for shortcomings and mistakes, for being proud of themselves for growing and learning.  

A few other ways they can give themselves the attention, love, and compassion they need are through journaling about their feelings, opening up to others, and artistic expression. People can’t pour from an empty glass, so it’s okay—actually encouraged—for them to make sure they’re feeling their best so others can, too.  


More and more attention has been placed on mental and emotional health over the years as people recognize the importance it holds in a fulfilling life. If you want your child to be able to focus well, strengthen resilience against hardships, and treat themselves with respect and kindness, the best thing you can do is teach them the must-have skill of self-care.

JEI Learning Center recognizes the importance of a healthy mentality in effective learning and personal growth. We hope that as your child continues to internalize self-care in partnership with our grit-centric JEI Self-Learning MethodⓇ, you can see your child mature into a joyful, intelligent, and inspired learner for life.

Learn more about the benefits of the JEI Self-Learning MethodⓇ. Contact a JEI Learning Center near you today!