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Guest post by Anya Willis
At The Chronic Diary, we know that living with a chronic condition isn’t easy. But nothing is worse than learning that your child has a chronic illness. You want to make them feel better, but you won’t always be around to help.
While there’s a lot you can do to offer your support, your child will need to learn how to cope with their condition on their own at some point.
Start teaching them how to practice self-care so they feel empowered to manage their condition and maintain their sense of wellbeing.
Model Healthy Self-Care Behaviors
If you want your kids to care about their health, you need to model healthy self-care behaviors yourself.
Kids naturally mirror the behaviors and thinking patterns of their parents, so it’s important to be a good role model!
Start by establishing a healthy family routine and making a commitment to practice what you preach.
For example, if you work from home, take steps to reduce your stress by creating a schedule that everyone understands and can follow.
Schedule time to spend with your children as well as time for work. If you and your partner both work from home, come up with a childcare system that gives you both time to focus throughout the day.
Taking care of your own body and making time for your personal passions is another way to show your kids the value of self-care.
When your kids see you doing things for yourself, they’ll internalize the importance of prioritizing their own needs.
Remember, it’s not selfish to take care of yourself! Keeping your cup full is an important part of being a good parent.
Encourage Daily Journaling
If your child is dealing with a difficult health condition, encouraging them to journal about their feelings can help them express themselves.
Intermountain Healthcare explains that journaling can reduce stress, improve immune function, boost mood, keep memory sharp, and strengthen emotional regulation.
Your child might also discover that journaling provides a boost to their sense of self-confidence and identity!
Consider buying your child a beautiful journal that they can use to write out their thoughts. If they’re not sure what to journal about, get them started with some daily journaling prompts.
For example, you could encourage your child to write about their biggest accomplishments, the things that make them happy, or about mistakes that they have learned from in the past.
Spend Lots of Time Outside
Spending time outside can have a wide range of benefits for your child’s overall well-being.
While your child may prefer to escape their condition by staring at a screen, getting outside is a much better form of self-care.
Spending time in nature has been shown to reduce stress and improve mood.
Beyond this, taking your child outside will encourage them to exercise, which comes with its own set of valuable health benefits.
And if it’s sunny out, your child will get to soak up some essential vitamin D!
4. Try Meditation
At first glance, meditating might not seem like a fun activity for kids. Have you ever seen a child happy to sit quietly while doing nothing?
But meditation can offer all kinds of benefits to kids, especially those dealing with difficult emotions.
According to Healthline, meditation is a great way for kids to practice coping skills that will last a lifetime!
Get started practicing meditation when your kids are calm, such as before bed or first thing in the morning.
Have them sit in a comfortable position and teach them how to notice their breath.
You could even play a guided meditation session for kids—you can find many great options on YouTube!
Teach Your Child to Make Healthy Food Choices
Diet can play a very important role in the management of your child’s chronic condition.
When they’re fueled with plenty of vitamins and minerals, they’ll enjoy more balanced energy and emotions during the day.
Avoiding processed foods and sugary items can also help to reduce inflammation in the body and relieve some of the pain associated with your child’s chronic condition.
Teach your child how to make healthy diet choices on their own. For example, eating meals together as a family is a great way to instill these habits.
You can also get your kids involved in the shopping and meal preparation process and use these activities as opportunities to talk about the value of proper nutrition.
Make Sleep a Priority
Getting enough high-quality sleep every night can have a positive impact on several chronic diseases, including diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and depression.
Studies also show that a good night’s sleep can improve children’s attention, behavior, learning, memory, and overall mental health.
Help your children learn how sleep benefits the brain and body so they understand why it’s important to go to bed on time.
There are all kinds of fun ways to get kids happy about bedtime. Even something as simple as reading with your child before bed can give them something to look forward to and get them into the habit of engaging in calming activities in the evening.
You could also work with your child to come up with a selection of calming self-care activities for bedtime and let them choose what they want to do every night. This is a great way to give them some control!
If your child has a chronic condition, encourage them to learn about self-care.
By helping your kids learn the importance of sleep, healthy eating, exercise, and meditative activities, you’re setting them up for success in managing their condition when you can’t be around to provide support.
Teaching your child how to practice self-care will help them build valuable coping skills that will stick with them for life!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Anya Willis is a mother of three and has been a yoga instructor for the past 12 years. She created Fit Kids to help parents find fitness alternatives to keep their kids moving.
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