“Self-care” is a term that can be confusing because different people define it differently. BUT there are some IMPORTANT things to consider that are useful when parents and teachers are trying to be helpful to their students. Here I give you a simple way of conceptualizing it, so you have a clear context to go from.
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Transcript: Click here to download the video transcript PDF.
Parents, teachers, therapists, maybe some students, in this video, I’m going to talk to you about self-care. But really, this one area of confusion that I’ve seen a lot around self-care, and that is this. Self-care is different when we’re talking about self-care for students, and we’re talking about it for adults, I’ll explain in just a moment.
My name is Seth Perler. I’m an Executive Function coach, so I help struggling students navigate this thing called education so they can have a great life. My site is SethPerler.com and got a bunch of freebies for you. I put out content all the time, a lot of good stuff, resources for you to help students with executive function challenges, ADHD, and all sorts of challenges that students might have that can interfere really, with quality of life, which is what it’s really all about. We want people to have a great education so they can have a great life.
Now, let me talk about the self-care. So we have this term ‘self-care,’ such a term that people use so differently, well, I just want to break it down with something that I’ve noticed that can be really helpful. A lot of people when they think self-care, they might be thinking, really, in terms of thinking about adults. They might be thinking, you know, self-care might be you know, getting a good workout, might be going to get a manicure or pedicure for some people, might be going to the doctor, might be all sorts of things. But imagine adults can have a very, you know, personalized idea of what is self-care for me? And people have their own ideas. But when we’re talking about kids, please don’t complicate it. What I generally am hearing when people are saying ‘self-care for kids’ it’s generally four things. When we’re talking about self-care for kids, and we want to teach self-care, we want kids to have better self-care, we’re concerned about a kids self-care. We’re generally talking about four things. What are those four things? Well, with executive function, with the brain’s ability to execute, to do things, to do the things that need to be done in life, sort of the foundation and in my perspective of executive function is good sleep, nutrition, and exercise.
Okay, so for self-care, sleep. Is the child or student sleeping? And when I say sleep, I mean restful sleep, where they’re waking up rested. Our executive function, our brain does not function optimally when we don’t sleep well. So is there restful, consistent sleep? That is self-care. Self-care is how do we care for ourselves to create the conditions to have restful sleep? Self-care, two, nutrition. Food, diet, whatever you want to call it, it doesn’t matter. But the question that I ask is, “Is the food that we’re consuming, nourishing, really nourishing, food? Is it nourishing?” So that’s the question I want you to ask. There’s a lot of chemicals and you’re eating a lot of processed foods, is that really nourishing? And what does that do to the brain? So self-care, are we nourishing ourselves? Self-care, exercise. I don’t care what you call it, movement, fitness, whatever. But the brain functions best when our bodies are activated, when we’re getting good fitness, good exercise, good movement, whatever you call it. So those are the first three. Okay, so what’s the other one? I said, there are four, what’s the other one? The other, the other one, I’m just going to call ‘other’ self-care ‘other.’ Other that I hear a lot from parents, teachers, and therapists has to do with any other sort of self-care. I often hear parents who were talking about their child with executive function struggles not wanting to brush their teeth, not showering regularly, mental health could be other, self-harm could be other. So self-care can come in other ways. Just to relook at it. I said earlier, I said, you know, for adults and parents, we think of self-care, and we might think of you know, doing nice things for yourself or getting that workout in, and it’s a different frame. But when we’re thinking about kids really, what my focus is, when I’m saying,”How’s the self-care?” I’m really looking at how’s the sleep, how’s the nutrition, how’s the movement, and how’s the other? What are those other things? And again, there are very consistent things in the other that come up like tooth brushing, I’ve just heard it so many times. It’s, it’s just, it’s so common to hear that, that’s one, there are these common areas. So we have our you know, our sleep, nutrition, exercise and other.
What do you think? What’s the difference between self-care for adults? And I’m asking this in a useful way. Okay. We’re really looking for useful answers here. But how do you differentiate that? Is there anything I left out? How can we define it for adults, and how can we define it for kids when we’re really talking about how to serve a human being kid who’s struggling with stuff? What are we looking at here? Did I leave anything out? What are your thoughts about this? How do we help people in this area? Again, my name is Seth Perler. Go head to SethPerler.com or ExecuticeFunctionSummit.com, you can check out what I got. I think probably a freebies for you in the link right there, but a lot of good resources sources for you. Please share my work, give it a thumbs up, like, subscribe, and do the things that support me. If my work is supporting your life, please support me. I’d appreciate that. Have a fantastic day and I wish for you peace of mind, joy, and I also wish for you connection with the people that care about you. Take care.
Eileen Blau says
Those are all really important ways for children and teens to be taking care of themselves. I would also add, does the child/teen have outlets for their emotional well being? Do they have a trusted person to share feelings, or ways of expressing themselves such as Art, music, or other creative outlets?
Cynthia Barlow says
I think I might have the 4th category be just for hygiene — I struggle to get my kid to buy into the idea that regular showers, frequent hand-washing and twice-a-day tooth-brushing are so important to his health.
Then I would have a 5th category for down-time and unstructured activities. That can mean so many things for different people but it’s so important. After a busy day my son usually does better if he has time to re-charge with some time to play guitar, sketch in his sketch book or just play with our dog. Whenever he’s struggling with transition from school to home, or when he’s gotten frustrated with his homework or just feeling grumpy, these activities help him feel more calm.
Julia Anderson Moon says
This is awesome. Thankyou! Hope you are well indeed. Would love to touch base soon. 3173326992. New number. Thanks for all that you do, Julia
Stephanie Cipresse says
Socializing with friends is an important aspect of mental health and therefore fits in the “other” category for self-care. Of course, friends can also be a big distraction. But, after the covid experience especially, social interaction is vital to mood stability.
I think that a lot of the time Self-Care for adults and children alike is popularly sumed up into maintenance, physical check ups and tune ups that should be very similar between adults and children. Sleep, nutrition, exercise/movement, hygiene and mental and emotional health. Which are all very important and quite mandatory really. Where it differs and what I deem really as self-care might look different from one person to the next pertaining on how they try to fulfill basic needs that have great value for them. Self-care to me is making sure that my Love tank is filled up regularly, my senses and brain are stimulated, that my sense of safety is nourished, that my need for connection with myself and with others is taken care of, because I value love and safety and connection and I might have various strategies that I will use to take care of these high needs of mine. For most kids we might infer by observing a majority of them that, their need for Love, safety and freedom is quite high and surely needs to be taken care of often. So now how do we show/coach them how to take care of these needs? Monkey see Monkey do accompanied by a litte verbalization on how doing so and so make us feel and how that need of ours is really being taken care of. Might be a question of really defining it for us as adult first han…
Wow didn’t think this was gonna be so long, but I find the topic interesting. Thanks for opening up the conversation 🙌🏾
To self-care essentials for kids, I would also add a source of joy (hobby or something they love to do to relax that they engage in on a regular basis) and relationships. I agree with the commenter above who said hygeine could be its own category, too. For me, I think of self-care as what I need to do to be emotionally at my best. There’s the ideal and the real-world and I think most people don’t get the ideal amount of self care very often (especially parents), but if we start to miss on too much then we get burnt out. For me my big self-care categories are sleep, movement, nutrition, hygeine, relationships (spouse, kids, friends), check in with my emotions, creative/by myself/hobby time, spirituality, outer environment (reasonably tidy house), inner environment (managing expectations, committments, and stress).