A child’s ability to take care of themselves is about more than just dressing and undressing, brushing their teeth, and using the restroom independently. While these skills are important for physical health and self-reliance, good emotional habits are also critical for a child’s well-being.
The past year has been a trying time for all of us. If your kids are struggling with the effects that COVID-19 continues to have on their daily life, a little self-care can go a long way. Here are some tips for teaching healthy emotional habits to your children.
- Exercise daily: As little as 20 minutes of moderate daily exercise may help prevent symptoms of depression, making it an essential part of self-care. To make exercise fun, help your kids find an activity they love, such as skateboarding, biking, or playing fitness video games.
- Minimize media usage: Excessive social media and screen time can lead to increased distress to your child, provide them with other worthwhile ways to pass their time.
- Teach stress management: When you know a stressful event is coming up, it helps to discuss it with your children in advance. Help them understand that everyone goes through challenges and they’re not alone in facing hard times. Then, suggest ways to cope, including play time, mindfulness, and yoga.
- Find kid-friendly self-care resources online: You’ll find many mobile apps and websites offering mindfulness activities and yoga exercises to make these self-care techniques more accessible to your children.
- Be open about your emotions: There’s a stigma against negative emotions in our society, but it’s healthier to experience and process normal levels of anxiety, stress, and anger than to stuff these feelings down. When your children get upset, reflect and validate their emotions without trying to offer a quick fix. Don’t insist that they calm down right away before having a chance to experience the full depth of their feelings.
- Encourage downtime every day: As with adults, children can often be over-scheduled. They may be so busy with school, clubs, and extracurricular activities that they have little to no downtime. Cancel some of your children’s obligations so they have time to spend engaged in unstructured play and to relax with the family.
- Be a good role model: If you expect your kids to exercise every day or spend less time on their phones/devices, practice what you preach. You can also use your need for downtime as an example of how important it is to let your body and mind relax.
- Practice self-care as a family: Get everyone on board with the concept of self-care so it’s easy to share experiences and tips with one another. Not only can this improve each person’s self-care routine, but it may also help you grow closer as a family.
If these self-care tips aren’t enough to combat your child’s heightened anxiety, stress, and negativity, STAR of CA can help. We offer behavioral and psychological services to children, adolescents, adults, and families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder. Please contact us at 805.588.8896 to find out more about our evidence-based services.
Bringing home a new baby is exciting, but when older siblings are involved, it’s also a bit of a challenge. For children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, it can be even more challenging. How do you prepare your child with ASD for the presence of a new little brother or sister? Every child with ASD is different, but some principles remain the same.
- Prepare your child early. Children with ASD often struggle with change, so prepare your child as soon as possible for all of the changes a baby will bring into the household. If Mom is pregnant, talk about that, using clear language. If any major changes need to be made- switching rooms, perhaps- these should be made early on, to minimize the number of disruptions that occur all at once.
- Be as honest as you can. Introduce the concept of “baby” and let your child know that this is a new family member to love. However, don’t paint too rosy a picture. Answer your child’s questions honestly, explaining that some things will change when the baby arrives. Explain that babies can’t feed themselves, are up at night, cry, and need people to change their diapers. Especially for children with ASD who are especially sensitive to sensory stimuli, knowing what’s coming is important.
- Use pictures and stories. Draw pictures together of families with babies, show your child photos of babies, or use social stories to help your child understand what to expect. You might take the child to a playground to observe babies, or introduce him or her to a friend’s baby. You know your own child’s capabilities, and how best to help the child understand.
- Involve your older child. Giving your child a sense of ownership of the new sibling will help make the transition easier. Make sure to teach concepts like “fragile” and “gentle” so that your child is not inadvertently too rough with the new baby.
- Maintain normalcy as much as possible. Establish something special you do regularly with your older child, like a bedtime story, and continue doing this after the baby is born. Keep the daily routine as consistent as possible after the baby arrives.
- Be prepared for pushback. Understand that not every feeling your child has about the new baby will be positive. There will always be ups and downs in a family. Be patient with your child with ASD, and make sure you have a support system in place to help you manage once you bring the baby home.
If your child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, STAR of CA is here to offer support. Founded in 2006, we provide behavioral and psychological services to people with ASD and related disorders in a nurturing environment that offers support for the entire family. We love what we do, and are devoted to improving lives through focused, caring services. You can contact us through our website or by calling 805.588.8896.
If you have a child who is living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or a related disorder, obtaining access to the right resources can be extremely beneficial. At STAR of CA, we offer a variety of services that are designed to help children with developmental disorders. For example, we offer an individualized behavioral intervention program for children who have disruptive and otherwise challenging behaviors. We also provide interventions for children who have delays in their socialization, communication, or self-care skills. If you’re in need of further support, we offer programs geared toward the needs of couples and families who are raising children with ASD, along with parent education services.
If you would like to learn more about the developmental services that we offer at STAR of CA, call us today at (805) 644-7827. We were founded in Ventura County in 2006, and we now work to provide as many communities as possible with the support and education they need to meet the challenges of ASD.
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