Self-care is a hot topic on the internet these days. As a society, we have finally realized that adults function significantly better when they take the time to decompress and relax. It allows us to be better versions of ourselves, which benefits everyone around us.
What we fail to realize is that self-care activities for kids are just as important. From school and homework, to extracurricular activities and friendships, to family obligations and household chores, kids deal with lots of demands and stress each day, and it’s up to us as parents and caregivers to teach theme how to find a proper balance.
Here are 20 of our favorite self-care activities for kids of all ages!
9 Self-Care Activities for Younger Kids
Younger kids lack the ability to clearly communicate their emotions, and often resort to screaming, crying, and other negative emotions when they feel stressed and overwhelmed. Finding ways to help your little one relax and unwind before big emotions hit can be helpful, and these self-care activities for younger kids are designed to do just that!
1. Enforce outside time
As adults, we tend to feel antsy and irritable when we’re cooped up inside for long periods of time, and sometimes forget our children feel the exact same way. Spend time playing in the backyard, go for a walk around the neighborhood, or plan a playdate with friends at your neighborhood park. The physical activity combined with a little vitamin D will help release feel-good endorphins, which will do wonders for everyone’s mood!
2. Guide them in sensory play
Encourage your little one to get their frustration out by molding playdoh or playing with slime. Working with different textures will help your child develop their sensory skills, and it can be highly therapeutic! For more sensory play ideas, CLICK HERE.
3. Buy your child a guided journal
I’m a firm believer in using a journal, even from a very young age, to help vent and sort through emotions in a healthy way. Of course, your preschooler or kindergartener may not be able to keep a proper written diary just yet, but he or she will enjoy a guided journal specifically made for young kids.
4. Bust out the crayons
Or watercolors, or colored pencils—whatever medium you choose, let your child go wild with color. Art therapy is one of my favorite self-care activities for kids, and your little one will appreciate the opportunity to push aside his or her worries for a little while.
5. Gift them a set of headphones!
Music is therapeutic for so many adults. Why would children be any different? While their favorite songs may be different from yours, child-friendly headphones will allow your child to listen to his or her favorite tunes on repeat, which is a great way to unwind and de-stress.
6. Implement regular family game nights
Turn off the technology and find silly games to play as a family. This is a great opportunity to model sportsmanship and help your children develop various skills, like self-regulation and executive functioning. Family game nights also offer a fun and easy way to spend quality time together, and when children are relaxed, happy, and their attention buckets are full, they often find it easier to open up about the things that are worrying them. CLICK HERE for some of our favorite family board games!
7. Organize a backyard campout
Pitch a tent, make some s’mores, and engage in some star-gazing together. You don’t actually have to sleep outside, but the experience will help you bond with your little one, and will help everyone unwind and relax. And who knows? You may instil a love for nature, camping, and/or astronomy in your little learner.
8. Cook together
Another one of my favorite self-care activities for kids is to get them involved in meal planning and preparation. Teach your kids the importance of fuelling our bodies with the right foods and nutrients, and spend time concocting and tasting recipes together. This is a great way to spend quality time with your kids while also teaching them about nutrition.
9. Encourage solo play
What does your child like to do? What are his or her current favorite toys? Allow them access to their play space and let them use their imagination to build towers, race cars, read books, or play with their dolls. We live in a day and age where we are encouraged to over-schedule ourselves and our children, and forget the importance of allowing our kids to be bored so they can develop their own interests.
11 Self-Care Activities for Older Kids
Just like adults, children deal with stressful situations, family commitments, and emotional changes on the regular. In older kids, this is coupled with raging hormones and peer-pressure—all of which create the perfect storm for feelings of stress, anxiety, and general emotional overload. These self-care activities for kids will help your child develop important coping skills throughout their lives, and will teach them the importance of pressing pause when life gets busy.
1. Encourage a physical pursuit
Whether your child enjoys team sports or prefers things they can do on their own, helping your child find a physical outlet can do wonders for their soul. Physical activity produces feel-good endorphins and helps combat feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression, and teaching your child to use exercise as a form of stress relief will be extremely helpful to them as they get older.
2. Schedule regular playdates and get togethers
We all love a good girls’ night out or date night with our significant other, and so do our kids. One of the best self-care activities for kids is to set up regular playdates and get togethers with their friends. Offer to host these at your home, and make yourself available to drive your child to meet friends whenever possible so it’s easy for them to socialize and connect with their peers.
3. Prioritize one-on-one time with an adult
As parents, we all know it’s important to carve out quality time with each of our children so we can connect with them, remind them they are important to us, and give them an opportunity to open up about anything that’s bothering them, but despite our best efforts, this isn’t always possible. Consider organizing a regular date with another adult your child looks up to so they are still getting the connection they need.
4. Start a garden
Gardening is incredibly therapeutic. Digging in the dirt and cultivating land is relaxing and an excellent (and practical!) skill to have. You can even ask your child to start an herb or vegetable garden with you, which you can enjoy together as you cook and create in the kitchen.
5. Adopt a pet
There is a reason therapy animals are rising in popularity. Animals are cuddly and their sole life goal is to make you (and your child) happy! Plus, caring for a pet will help your child take the scrutiny off themselves and focus energy onto the animal instead, while also teaching them responsibility.
6. Help them tidy their space
Our environment often reflects our emotions—and vice versa. While a clean room doesn’t necessarily mean your child will be able to rid themselves of their stress, it will go a long way towards helping them feel organized and in control.
7. Take them on a hike
Any kind of nature walk will do—the point is to get your child out of the house and into nature. Many people find they communicate better while walking, rather than face to face, particularly introverted children.
8. Run a bath
Make sure to add bubbles and some soft music. Just like adults, your children will feel relaxed and content after soaking in the tub with a good book. Bubble baths really are good for the soul!
9. Go stargazing
Whether you organize a weekend trip, or simply spend the evening lying in your backyard, staring at the stars can be very therapeutic. There are tons of great stargazing books you can review together ahead of time, allowing you to search for particular constellations while you decompress together.
10. Get baking!
Baking is a lot of fun and can actually be very relaxing. The smells of sugar, butter, and cream, coupled with the repetitive motions of mixing and stirring can allow your son or daughter to relax and unwind. Getting your kids involved in the kitchen is a great way to spend quality time together, allowing you to chat freely while you experiment with different ingredients.
11. Encourage journaling
Whether your child suffers from severe anxiety, or takes life in stride, there’s no denying that kids of all ages have worries, and journaling provides a fabulous outlet to help them address their feelings. Writing our thoughts out on paper forces us to come to terms with the things we’re feeling, and while this may initially cause your child to feel anxious, stressed, sad, or ashamed, working through his or her thoughts will typically bring him or her back to a state of calm. There are tons of journal prompts for kids that are designed to help children think outside of their comfort zones, and as your child writes, he or she will inevitably start to come up with solutions to his or her problems. CLICK HERE for our favorite journals for kids along with 30 days of writing prompts for a little inspiration!
I hope this collection of self-care activities for kids inspires you to find simple yet meaningful ways to teach your child how to find balance in his or her life. Remember, it’s important to take the time to instil these habits into your child while they are young. If you do, they will become self-sufficient adults who know how to unwind and disconnect in a healthy way.