Getting Your Kids Started On a Self-Care Routine
Kids today have a better chance of leading a healthy, happy lifestyle than ever before. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) label regulations have made it easier to spot added sugar, online resources promote mental and physical development, and the pandemic has pushed the idea of handwashing and self-grooming to the forefront of many children’s minds.
However, getting your kids excited about practicing regular self-care is still challenging — particularly if you lead a busy lifestyle and can’t monitor them throughout the day. But, instead of fretting over whether or not your kid has brushed their teeth before bed, you need to focus on instilling a healthy routine in your kids, no matter their age.
Washing and Bath Time
Even as we exit the pandemic, washing and general cleanliness play vital roles in your child’s overall health. Even if your kids look clean, you have to remember that schools are infamous for the spread of colds and lice for a reason. Children can get lice or unseen illnesses by touching, sharing clothing and food, or simply when playing with one another. So, as a parent, you need to ensure that your children follow a regular self-hygiene routine
For Younger Children
- Stick to a regular, non-negotiable bath time just before bed. The warm water will help calm younger children down, and they’ll get used to the idea of washing every evening.
- Build a positive association between bathtime and fun by replacing boring bath soap with FDA-approved bath bombs.
- Sit with younger children and ask them about their day. This will give them a sense of affirmation and will ensure that they are washing properly.
- Older children need more freedom. Allow them to set their own shower/bath routine, but ensure they do clean themselves every day.
- If you take older children shopping, let them choose their own bath bombs or soap for that week. Just be aware that some bath bombs can clog drains, so steer them away from bombs with flower petals or confetti.
- Introduce older children to more intricate self-care routines showing them how adults practice a proper skin-care routine.
Dental health gives parents and dentists insight into kids’ overall health. That’s because kids’ dental hygiene is affected by their diet and general well-being. According to the American Dentistry Association, foods that contain empty calories — candy, cookies, chips — are causes for dental concern. Additionally, illnesses like gastrointestinal reflux and some eating disorders can worsen your kid’s dental health and lead to a cyclical pattern of poor dietary choices and ill health.
As a parent, you can help children or older kids get into a good dental health routine by providing whole foods at home, and by modeling good behavior like brushing and flossing your own teeth.
For Younger Children
As an adult, you might assume that learning to brush your teeth is simple — just a squeeze of toothpaste and a good scrub, right? Well, in reality, good teeth brushing habits are hard to come by. Here’s the toothbrushing routine your need to instill in young children:
- Brush for two minutes, but not too hard — overzealous children can damage their enamel if they push too much.
- Ensure that younger children floss every time they brush. Gentle flossing is one of the best ways to get rid of the excess build-up of food, but many children don’t learn to floss until their teens.
- Take younger children to all your routine dental checkups, as this prepares young children to visit the dentist. Many children fear the dentist, but if you frame dentistry as a routine part of self-care, they will not be as afraid.
For Older Children
- Everyone should replace their toothbrush regularly. Rather than replacing your child’s toothbrush without telling them, build self-care responsibility in older children by asking them to tell you when their brush needs replacing (around every 3 months).
- Older children may have to deal with braces and retainers. Taking care of orthodontic devices is a hassle, so reward older children who keep their braces clean with treats and semi-regular surprises like video games and day trips.
Diet and Exercise
Diet and exercise are integral to children’s self-care routine. But, as a parent, instilling a healthy food and exercise routine can feel like an uphill battle. Here are a few tips to help build a better diet and exercise routine in children of all ages.
- Control the timing and environment of mealtime, and discourage unscheduled eating — even small sugary snacks can quickly fill young children’s bellies.
- Set young children challenges to drink enough water (1 - 1.3L per day) and reward them for drinking enough with cartoons or play.
- Create a positive association between healthy foods and happiness by teaching simple nutrition lessons about the food you’re eating (e.g. “protein makes you strong”, or “fruits make you happy”).
- Satiate older children’s need for independence by allowing them to research and cook one healthy recipe per week. This introduces them to culinary skills and gets them to start thinking about diet and how food affects their mind and body.
- Older children are less inclined to spontaneous play. Get older children into a self-care exercise routine by signing them up for sports and bringing them to “adult” activities like yoga classes.
- Routinely ask older children about the sports or exercise activities they are doing. If they sound bored, find something else — you can only build a positive self-care exercise routine in older children if they are having fun and enjoying themselves.
Building a self-care routine in children is one of parenthood's greatest challenges. You can be hands-on with younger children and should do everything possible to ensure that they are cleaning themselves properly and eating the right kind of food. Older children will benefit from more independence and will appreciate being treated like adults, so consider involving them in “adult” things like your yoga practice for better mental and physical health.