When it comes to self-care, we often imagine adults taking a break from their busy lives. However, young people need it as much as we do. In fact, teaching self-care to kids as early as possible sets them up for success. It allows them to become independent, responsible, resilient, and healthy.
Below, you’ll find a list of the best self-care ideas for kids to practice daily. Depending on how old your child is, you can start with basic things like eating healthy food and saying a prayer at mealtime. And more importantly, don’t just explain a self-care strategy. Model it.
101 Self-Care Ideas for Kids
1. Go on a bike ride - If this is their first time, make sure their bike fits properly and let them wear a helmet.
2. Read a good book - Reading is a great brain exercise. Research also shows that reading aloud to kids promotes language development and strengthens your bond[*].
3. Listen to an audiobook - Audiobooks are also amazing. They develop a child’s imagination.
4. Cook a good meal - Easy recipes include sandwiches, parfaits, and chicken nuggets.
5. Draw or paint - Choose non-toxic art supplies, such as water-based paints and those made with natural ingredients.
6. Do a puzzle - Jigsaw puzzles are a fun challenge. They improve their memory and problem-solving ability.
7. Watch inspirational movies - When your child is feeling stressed, watch a light movie with them! (And have some cheese or watermelon slices as a movie snack.)
8. Drink tea or hot chocolate - Lemon ginger tea and green tea are good options.
9. Play a game with friends - Try freeze dance or “name that song”!
10. Snuggle up in a warm blanket - Weighted blankets may reduce anxiety and stress[*].
11. Meditate - Download a guided meditation app for them, such as Headspace and Stop, Breathe & Think.
12. Spend time with a friend - Play a board game, bake cookies, or make a scrapbook.
13. Go for a walk - It’s an opportunity for young people to connect with nature.
14. Make your bed - Here’s a simple chore that gives them a sense of accomplishment!
15. Eat healthy - Encourage them to choose healthy foods by making sure they’re always available.
16. Do yoga - Kids 4 years and above are able to understand instructions. You can start teaching them yoga!
17. Follow daily routines - Teach them how to get ready in the morning for school and wash their hands after they use the toilet.
18. Problem solve - You can ask them open-ended questions or present a problem and ask them to develop at least 3 solutions.
19. Share your feelings with someone - Compliment your child when they express their feelings in a healthy way.
20. Clean or organize your room/backpack - This is also an opportunity for them to focus and stay on task.
21. Save your money - Give them their own jar or piggy bank to start their savings goals!
22. Play brain games - Brain games include the Rubik’s cube and jigsaw puzzles.
23. Research a subject of interest - Interesting research topics include the solar system and dinosaurs.
24. Make a gratitude list - They can think of their favorite food, hobby, or a beautiful place they recently visited!
25. Read inspirational quotes - “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
26. Deep belly breathing - Is your child feeling anxious? This simple exercise will help them when they’re in the midst of a tantrum.
27. Stretch - Stretching exercises improve their body coordination.
28. Write notes to people you love - It’s a good writing practice and it cheers people up.
29. Go to the park - Have a picnic, too!
30. Drink a glass of water - Encourage them to choose water over sugary drinks.
31. Play with a pet - Pets offer companionship no matter your child’s mood.
32. Run around outside - Just remind them to be cautious about the heat.
33. Stargaze - Here are some stargazing tools: A sky map and a pair of binoculars.
34. Get or give a hug - Hugging promotes healing.
35. Call a friend or family member - Trusted friends and relatives can offer support when kids are feeling upset.
36. Garden - Growing your own food is rewarding.
37. Watch a favorite show - It’s something they can look forward to each day.
38. Laugh - They can do an impression of a cartoon character or do a funny dance.
39. Exercise - Make it a fun social activity!
40. Craft something - Easy crafts include collage birdhouses and princess wands.
41. Get good sleep - Have a quiet chat with them about their day and read them a bed time story to help them calm down.
42. Shower or take a bath - Make bath time fun by letting them play with their favorite toys.
43. Do something fun - Here’s a fun self-care for kids activity at home: Blow bubbles to promote relaxation.
44. Be active - Study shows that physical activity promotes their growth and development, and it builds their confidence[*].
45. Practice stress management techniques - The child’s pose (Balasana) is great for stress-relief.
46. Move your body - Do jumping jacks or run in place!
47. Take a nap - Engaging in a calm activity allows them to transition to nap time.
48. Listen to uplifting music - Positive music builds their confidence.
49. Unplug from electronics - Unplugging even for short periods helps improve their academic performance.
50. Join a club/sport - Academic, volunteering, and faith-based clubs will enable them to develop a number of skills.
51. Complete a daily to-do list - You can also make a printable list for them, which includes simple tasks like brushing their teeth and making their afternoon snack at home.
52. Forgive yourself and others - Remind them that forgiveness isn’t about being right.
53. Help others or volunteer - This can include donating their unused toys and books to other children.
54. Make self-care a priority - If self-care is a struggle, they can set a personal alarm that will serve as a reminder!
55. Be kind to yourself and others - Encourage them to always speak kind words.
56. Encourage yourself - “I am wonderfully made.”
57. Spend time in nature - Natural environments allow them to discover new things and be more curious about the world.
58. Use positive self-talk to challenge negative thoughts - “I am open and ready to learn.”
59. Use grounding techniques - Instruct them to name five things they see.
60. Focus on what you can control, let go of what you can’t - It’s a helpful reminder for kids who are struggling with feelings of disappointment.
61. Listen to instrumental music - They can play a musical instrument, too.
62. Practice self-compassion - Also, avoid being dismissive of your child’s feelings.
63. Learn new things - You can also teach them life skills!
64. Set and work toward goals - Goals can include completing their homework and following a study routine.
65. Discover your passions - Kids are naturally good at something. Knowing their strengths will help them find their passion.
66. Spend time with positive people - This can help improve their performance in school.
67. Focus on strengths and improve your weaknesses - Here’s an idea for them to try: Make an “accomplishments” box to remind themselves of the things they’ve done well.
68. Take alone time when you need it - Allowing kids to spend time by themselves can be an opportunity for them to develop new ideas.
69. Journal your thoughts/feelings - Help them brainstorm journaling ideas.
70. Write out your values - Honesty, forgiveness, and gratitude.
71. Eat three meals each day - Healthy dishes include chicken and veggie bowls and turkey meatballs.
72. Brush your teeth - Educate them about the benefits of maintaining good oral health.
73. Spend time with your family - Go on a weekend bike ride!
74. Rest - Plan a bedtime ritual together and follow it.
75. Take time to relax - Drawing and coloring are some of the best activities that will help them feel calmer.
76. Do something nice for someone - Hold the door open for someone. Wave at other kids.
77. Mindfulness - Do this 5-minute activity: Ask them to notice three nice things in their environment.
78. Get some fresh air - Spending time playing outdoors allows them to breathe fresh air.
79. Go out in the sun - There are so many activities to do under the sun. Try building an obstacle course!
80. Do a hobby - Go birdwatching or do origami.
81. Practice good hygiene - Good personal hygiene includes washing their hands, taking regular baths, and brushing their teeth.
82. Dance - Dancing is a creative way to express their emotions.
83. Swim - Make it a memorable activity by playing a water dance challenge.
84. Pray - Set aside time to pray with them as well.
85. Use positive coping skills - They can squeeze a stress ball or do journaling as an expressive outlet.
86. Maintain a positive attitude - As a parent, refrain from using negative labels and criticizing at home.
87. Practice optimism - Help them see the positive side of things. Remind them that optimism increases their chances of success.
88. Practice self-love - Also, show your child that you’re proud of them.
89. Lie outside & look for shapes in the clouds - They’ll find various shapes in cumulus clouds, such as flying saucers and fishes!
90. Smile - Smiling relaxes their bodies. Not to mention, it’s contagious!
Say positive self-care affirmations such as:
91. “I can be kind to myself.” - Teach them self-kindness habits as well, such as making a list of their accomplishments and avoiding negative self-talk.
92. “I accept and love myself.” - Let them embrace their own uniqueness and strengths.
93. “I respect myself and others.” - They can also develop a respect for others, such as saying “please” and “thank you.”
94. “I let go of what I cannot change.” - This helps kids learn to accept that things won’t always go as planned.
95. “I forgive myself for my mistakes.” - Also, they should think of their mistakes as a learning experience.
96. “I strive to get better, not perfect.” - Perfectionism increases a child’s stress levels and it can lead to mental health problems.
97. “I learn from mistakes and failures.” - Getting things wrong also has its positive side.
98. “I can do anything I put my mind to.” - This allows them to develop a growth mindset.
99. “It’s okay to ask for help when I need it.” - Kids sometimes deal with bigger problems and they should feel empowered to seek help instead of viewing it as a negative thing.
100. “One bad day does not make me a bad person.” - As they recite this, encourage them to take deep breaths until they calm down.
101. “Every day in every way, I am getting better and better.” - This will help kids avoid perfectionism and accept their flaws graciously.
Download our 101 Self-Care Ideas for Kids
Would you like a colored printable version of self-care activities for kids? You can hang it as a poster in their room and it will serve as a nice reminder to always look after their physical, mental, and emotional health. Download it here.
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- Bestbier L, Williams T. The Immediate Effects of Deep Pressure on Young People with Autism and Severe Intellectual Difficulties: Demonstrating Individual Differences. 2017 January 09
- Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School. Physical Activity and Physical Education: Relationship to Growth, Development, and Health. 2013 October 13