Keep calm and cre­ate a kids’ self-care tool­kit


Llanelli Star - - FAMILY HEALTH -

WE LIVE in an in­creas­ingly busy world, full of pres­sure to re­act in­stantly to friends on group mes­sages, FaceTime and so­cial me­dia.

Thank­fully, along­side the crazy life­styles and in­no­va­tion, we are all also try­ing to tune into our­selves a lit­tle more.

We know it’s a good idea to take time out from tech, to en­joy some re­lax­ation, sleep prop­erly and love our­selves as much as we can.

We’re pass­ing those mes­sages on to our kids as well, and they’re needed.

“The sta­tis­tics on the preva­lence of men­tal health is­sues for chil­dren are alarm­ing,” says Suzy Read­ing, mum-of-two and au­thor of new mind­ful­ness book Stand Tall Like A Moun­tain, cit­ing that NHS Dig­i­tal stud­ies have shown emo­tional dis­or­ders in chil­dren are on the in­crease.

To cre­ate calm within the chaos, she rec­om­mends building a self-care tool­kit for kids, but what ex­actly is it, and how do we en­cour­age our lit­tle (and not-so-lit­tle) ones, to get on board?


“A SELF-CARE tool­kit is a be­spoke se­lec­tion of nour­ish­ing prac­tices and skills that help our chil­dren nav­i­gate chal­leng­ing emo­tions and life experience­s, boost­ing well­be­ing and re­silience,” notes Suzy. By ‘be­spoke’, she means that it’s most ef­fec­tive when tai­lored to the needs, pref­er­ences and in­ter­ests of the in­di­vid­ual.

“We teach our chil­dren about healthy eat­ing, healthy exercise and road safety – we clearly need to broaden that tool­kit to ad­dress men­tal and emo­tional health.”

This might sound a bit chal­leng­ing, but ac­tu­ally, all you need is a book, a brain and a bam­bino of any age.


TO CRE­ATE a self-care tool­kit, you need to iden­tify times or sit­u­a­tions your chil­dren find dif­fi­cult, tricky or un­happy.

“It’s not about never feel­ing sad,” says Suzy. “Feel­ing sad is a re­ally nor­mal emo­tion. It’s about let­ting your­self feel it, but do­ing some­thing that soothes you.”

Poppy, my six-year-old, de­scribes her body as feel­ing ‘fast’ when she gets stressed.

It’s of­ten when she’s try­ing to do some­thing like her hair, and is strug­gling with it, but in­stead of stop­ping and ask­ing for help, she feels over­whelmed and gets up­set.

So, she de­cided to make a tool­kit for when she feels stressed.

Rosie, my nine-year-old, some­times lays in bed for ages, strug­gling to get to sleep.

She’s a bit of a wor­rier, and has al­ways used the time be­fore she goes to sleep to think over ev­ery­thing that’s hap­pened or is both­er­ing her. So, she de­cided to build a tool­kit for bed­time.

Col­lec­tively, they agreed they also miss lots of peo­ple in their fam­ily, as they don’t get to see them as much as they’d like.

They thought they’d make a third tool­kit for when they’re miss­ing some­one, whether that’s mummy and daddy on a week­end away, Nana up in heaven, or Uncle Ben who lives quite far away.

To make a tool­kit, you sim­ply need to write down a list of things you can do when you feel stressed/can’t sleep/ miss some­one – or what­ever it is that’s a worry.

By writ­ing it down, it helps you re­mem­ber what to do, be­cause when any of us ex­pe­ri­ence chal­leng­ing emo­tions – es­pe­cially chil­dren – it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to think log­i­cally about what to do to make your­self feel bet­ter.


MY KIDS were sur­pris­ingly up for mak­ing self-care toolkits.

I thought Poppy would be, be­cause she’s able to recog­nise when she’s un­happy and is al­ways keen to do some­thing about it.

But my el­dest of­ten suspects any­thing like this might be bor­ing.

She does love get­ting creative though, so armed with a fresh new pad, some stick­ers, pen­cils and pens, they set about start­ing a self-care jour­nal, which would in­clude their cho­sen toolkits.


POPPY wanted to build a tool­kit for when she feels stressed. These are the things she thought would make her feel bet­ter:

■ Stand up tall.

■ Do a chicken wing shoul­der roll (put your hands on your shoul­ders, breathe in, roll them around, breathe out and shake it off ).

■ Shut my eyes and concentrat­e on breath­ing slowly.

■ Do some draw­ing.

■ Write a story.

■ Ask for a hug.

■ Talk about how I’m feel­ing.


ROSIE says she’s “not al­ways ready to go to sleep”, so we de­cided she could try do­ing any of these things if she’s strug­gling at bed­time:

■ Stretch or do some yoga.

■ Lis­ten to mu­sic.

■ Dream up the best day ever.

■ Think about bak­ing and dec­o­rat­ing a cake – imag­ine all the dif­fer­ent stages.

■ Think about happy mem­o­ries, like a hol­i­day.

■ Put a toy on my tummy and fo­cus on breath­ing – pre­tend your tummy is a bal­loon which you’re try­ing to blow up slowly, and then let it out.

■ Stand Tall Like a Moun­tain: Mind­ful­ness And Self-Care For Chil­dren And Par­ents by Suzy Read­ing is pub­lished by Aster, priced £12.99. Avail­able now.

Write things down helps you re­mem­ber what to do to com­bat stress

A vi­tal­ity wheel – part of the self-care tool­kit

Suzy Read­ing with her book, Stand Tall Like A Moun­tain

Yoga could help re­store calm

A tool­kit can help chil­dren nav­i­gate chal­leng­ing emo­tions and life experience­s

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