It’s important to teach your children to show love and respect to others, but don’t forget to teach them that they have to take care of themselves, too. Both physically and mentally, the little ones can benefit a whole lot from learning how to address their needs. Primarily, they will become more confident and independent, but there are many other benefits that go along with that, depending on which activity you choose. Remember, children are developing quickly and are soaking in sensations like a sponge, so the more senses are stimulated, the better. Don’t worry, all of this really doesn’t have to be very demanding – here’s what every parent can do.
Make things easy to reach
First of all, provide a suitable environment for a child to practice self-care. MindChamps Australia does that superbly, for example, so you may want to check out their early learning centres to see how it’s done, but you can do a lot for your child at home, too. This simply means that everything the little ones could need should be easily accessible to them. Don’t leave things too high so that they can’t reach it, don’t do everything instead of them, point them to the need they have if they don’t realize it themselves etc. Remember, we’re talking about self-help here, so you as a parent should be involved as little as possible. Naturally, this doesn’t mean you should neglect your child altogether, but you should always allow a lot of time for an action to be completed. Yes, some patience may be required, but the rewards are big. It will take some time for an action to become a routine, but once it does, it will stick with your child from that point on. Also, try to provide a quiet place somewhere where your child will be able to just stop, reflect and rest for a moment. Why? Keep reading!
When it comes to mental self-help for children, the key is hidden in one word – relaxation. Yes, children need to just stop for a moment and take a break, too. Allow them to get the sensation that everything around them has stopped and that they’re at the center of attention, even if just for a few moments. You can do that by rocking them gently, for example, but whatever allows them to relax completely is great. They just have to feel without a care in the world.
But when it comes to relaxation, remember that sleep is also really important. Many mental problems start with lack of sleep, so don’t make any compromises. On top of that, physical activity is also mentally beneficial, so encourage it whenever you can. Whether that’s just a walk with your pet or participating in the local children’s league, every activity your child shows interest in should be strongly encouraged. That includes artistic activities too, which are a great way to relieve stress.
Mind you, this goes for adults as well as for kids. Rested and relaxed adults will be able to bond with their children better because children can clearly see when someone’s exhausted or simply unhappy. Not to mention that pursuing a hobby that both you and your child can enjoy will do wonders for your relationship.
But when it comes to children’s self-help, many people first think of physical activities. Sure enough, there is a big number of things you can help your children learn, things that are focused on taking care of their little bodies. As a matter of fact, you’ve probably already started showing your child how to do many of them.
For example, brushing teeth and washing hands is something that should be taught very early, and that certainly qualifies as self-help, but you can also allow them to help with let’s say some simple food preparation. Peeling a banana is easy, and spreading something like jam on a slice of bread or toast isn’t any harder. This will teach them to prepare food whenever they’re hungry. Furthermore, a good idea is to set up a mirror for them. That can serve as a great way to introduce things like brushing hair or wiping your nose – show them how to do it and what everything should look like once they’re finished. You can also make water and juices available to them by putting the containers somewhere low, along with a glass. Let them pour what they want to drink themselves whenever they feel like it.
A particularly important aspect of self-help is teaching your child the basics of providing first aid. Show them where the band-aids and other items are kept (remember, keep them somewhere your child can reach them), and let them treat a wound if they scratch themselves too deeply or suffer some other minor injury. Nobody expects them to perform brain surgery, but small things like that can mean a whole lot if you have to leave them home alone for a while.
A few final words…
The main thing to keep in mind when it comes to children’s self-help is that it will take some patience to teach them a certain skill. If you’re allowing them to pour a drink themselves, expect that some of it will end up on the floor. Don’t get frustrated – just provide a sponge for them and show them how to wipe the liquid off. Or maybe find a child care centre that teaches them all of that.
But don’t do it instead of them because this is all about making your child independent. Help if you see they’re struggling, give extra explanations if necessary, but let them complete the task on their own. As far as the mental part of the equation is concerned, support their ways of expression, but stick to a routine you want to implement (like early bedtime). And if you can lead by example and find a hobby you can enjoy together, that would be absolutely perfect.