By Sherry Eklund

As a parent or guardian, the most important, impactful job, with little recognition, is raising your child. You want them to excel, be happy, confident individuals in a world filled with challenges and conflicts. Every day you are impacting your child’s choices, memories and have the power, opportunity, and the responsibility to make a positive difference in their lives.

During these years, they are going through many physical and emotional changes, and it is during this time they are most vulnerable and at higher risk for emotional health issues such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, drug use, eating disorders, etc. This is a critical time for parents to be involved and supportive.

Helping teens make smart, healthy choices can be a result of collaboratively creating a self-care plan designed specifically for their needs and personality.

Self-care is the intentional practice of taking care of oneself…emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually.  Although self-care may look different to each of us, the importance of taking care of ourselves cannot be understated.

Through regular practice the benefits are enormous and can be life changing — maybe lifesaving. Visualize your teen as a self-confident, more relaxed/less anxious, happier individual with a higher level of coping skills, and healthy relationships. One that isn’t afraid of life’s consequences but embraces their authentic self. Powerful, right?


Ideas for teens

Emotional self-care is about creating self-compassion and attaining emotional well-being by getting in touch with our emotions. This is more difficult and challenging than it sounds. Afterall, teens are all about emotions! They may struggle to articulate what they are feeling or may not understand what they are feeling, hence the risk of turning to a less desirable or dangerous alternative to cope.

You may want to take your teen shopping for a personal journal of their choice. Creating a gratitude journal encourages anyone to appreciate all things, big and small, plus promotes happiness. Just as you might leave your partner a love note, or a note of encouragement, why not leave one for your child? Celebrate their successes!

Help them set boundaries and develop friendships that are supportive, and watch for any signs of disruption in those friendships. They need to know they have a safe place to be angry, sad or hurt.

Mental self-care provides the opportunity to reduce stress, but is so closely intwined with Emotional Self-Care. The two truly feed one another.Expressing one’s emotions creatively with art or writing can free our mental state from self-destructive thoughts. Caution here, if your teen is experiencing self-destructive thoughts or exhibiting self-destructive behavior, it is critical to get professional help.

Allow time for reading beyond homework, listening to music, and catching up with friends. Why not pick a puzzle to work on together that allows quality time together.  Creating memories with your teens last a lifetime. Physical self-care incorporates activities that improve physical health. Studies have shown that active individuals are able to cope better when conflict arises.

Simple things like taking the dog for a walk or playing with the cat can add the opportunity for self-reflection. Developing new hobbies or skills are great ways to boost self-confidence.

You’ll want to ensure your teen is eating properly, staying hydrated and getting the appropriate amount of sleep. Teens need 9 to 9 ½ hours of sleep per night.

Spiritual self-care is about nurturing our spirit and connecting with our higher self.  It can also include thinking bigger and broader than ourselves. Spirituality is such a personal experience that could be dictated by family, friends or one’s own personal experiences. They may desire quiet time for prayer, meditation, or self-reflection. It could be quite rewarding to help at a place of worship function or summer camp. Volunteering at a senior center or even at an animal shelter can help create a path of empathy and dedication.

Creating a self-care plan, in collaboration with your teen, helps ensure they understand that self-care is not selfish. It’s having a safe place to land when life tosses you a curve ball. It’s about taking better care of themselves so they can become the best version of themselves, which will in turn allow them to be make healthy choices. Self-care truly is empowerment.


Sherry Eklund is the founder of Teen Strong, LLC.  She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Child Development and a Master of Science in Educational Computing.  Visit, or email [email protected]