Parenting with a Purpose – Modeling Self-Care

We are celebrating Purposeful Parenting Month, and what a month of joy it is. We all know how significant the role of a parent is, and research tells us that the parent-child relationship paves the way for a child’s ability to choose relationships in adulthood. This week, we are going to focus on self-care and how you can intentionally model self-care for your child.

Why is modeling self-care important?

If you are a parent or have been around children, you are aware of children’s incredible observational skills. They mimic the words you say and your behaviors as their way of making sense of the world. In other words, if they see you doing something, they assume it’s safe (because you are the one they trust), and they feel safe enough to try it as well. For better or for worse, this is the reason why being purposeful in how you model for your children is significant.  Specifically, modeling self-care for your children teaches them:

  1. Boundaries
  2. Self-respect
  3. Consistency
  4. Appropriate ways to rest as well as showing the need for rest
  5. Skills for regulating emotions

Here are some practical ways to model self-care:

  1. Let them know you are taking some “mom” or “dad” time: Make your self-care time purposeful and consistent by scheduling it at similar times each day or week. During that time, let your child know that you are doing something that helps you rest or regain energy. If they call on you for help, determine if it’s urgent. If not, teach them boundaries by letting them know that you just need 10 more minutes of time and then return to your child. The more regular your self-care time, the more you model consistency and routine, which are essential for a child to feel safe.
  2. Tell them about your emotional breaks: It is healthy to let your child know how you are feeling as long as it is not overwhelming to them and you don’t require a response or solution from them. For example, a healthy way to take an “emotional break” would be to say something like this: “Honey, I am feeling really overwhelmed right now because I have lots of things to do. I’m going to go sit down and read for 10 minutes until I feel less overwhelmed.” This normalizes emotions for them, and they get to see how you manage big feelings.
  3. Make self-care normal: You can discuss self-care in big and small ways. Teach your child that you take care of yourself by sitting down for lunch. Teach them that you take care of your body by eating nutritious foods that give you energy. These discussions can and should be a normal part of everyday life.

This week, take time to think about the areas of self-care which could use some growth. Think of ways to purposefully teach your children life lessons using activities of daily living. You are the foundation for your family. As you set a healthy tone, your child will follow suit.

Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)– “Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

~Mary Shea