20 ways to treat yourself like a child and be happier

September 6, 2017

When you treat someone like a child it usually means that you’re being condescending, patronizing, or otherwise obnoxious. Sometimes though treating yourself, like a child can be a good thing. Or even great!

Maybe I’m just not great at taking care of myself, but I know that when I am responsible for a kid I take care of them a lot better than I do myself! And when I am indecisive or lazy about caring for myself or doing something I should, it often helps to ask myself “What if I were a child? What would I do for myself?”.

This way of thinking helps me prioritize, be healthier, and be kinder to myself and I think it could help you too!

Here’s twenty examples of how treating myself like a child makes me happier:

  1. Listen to your body when you are hungry and thirsty

    I would never let a child go hungry just because I am busy or too lazy to make a meal! Why do I ignore my own body when I want food? I also am diligent about making my nephew drink enough water when I’m watching him on a hot day. The least I can do for myself is to have a drink now and then. The “Plant Nanny” app is free and has also been helping me get enough water lately. Without it I usually end up ignoring water until late at night and then drinking a ton right before bed. Not ideal.

  2. Eat your veggies

    I’m an adult. As an adult I can control all of what I eat. I could even choose to eat only chocolate cake for every meal! That’s a terrible idea though. If I were a child I’d make myself eat at least a few veggies daily. As an adult that’s still a good idea.

  3. Go outside

    Have I ever trapped a kid inside for days at a time without giving them fresh air and an opportunity to play? No. Have I ever spent days cooped up inside without fresh air or natural surroundings. Maybe.

  4. Treat yourself…sometimes

    It’s important to have treats and special things to celebrate. It is also important not to eat chocolate cake for every meal. See number 2.

  5. Forgive yourself

    If a child is upset about a mistake they made in the past and apologized I would forgive them. No doubt. Every time. Do the same for yourself.

  6. Protect yourself from jerks and bullies

    Don’t force kids to be around people who demean, mock, or use their abilities selfishly. And don’t hang around those people yourself! If your “friends” or coworkers make you feel bad about yourself-feel free to avoid them as much as possible! This may sound silly, but it is just part of respecting yourself.

  7. Give yourself homework

    Kids are constantly working, growing, and learning- and that homework usually is a big enough priority that it comes before playing video games, or whatever. I know I’m happier when I force myself to stop procrastinating and do something productive BEFORE I let myself watch youtube videos, read a book, or go out for coffee.

  8. Spend time with friends-or make some

    Kids need friends. Adults need friends. You need friends. Everyone does, so allow that to be a priority.

  9. Try (and fail) at new things

    You wouldn’t shame a kid for failing at something they never tried before, so don’t write yourself off as “just not good at” something before you give it a bit of practice! Whether it is learning an instrument, cooking, or learning a new language. Give yourself permission to fail for a LONG while. I am personally one of the worst singers in the world (I assume) but have been trying to practice more often and sing along to the radio with friends despite the ugly sounds I make. And it’s fun!

  10. Point out and appreciate the little things

    Just enjoy life! When I’m walking with a toddler I’m always pointing something cool out for them-planes, flowers, friendly dogs. Why don’t I make a point to focus more on those for my own sake? When I take the time to literally smell the roses I enjoy my day a lot more.

  11. Ask questions

    Little kids are infamous for this-and it’s great! Being curious about the world and asking questions is just another way to do #10 and enjoy the little things in life. Plus, with google, you can even find the answers sometimes!

  12. Enjoy storytime

    Kid’s LOVE storytime! Even big kids like my 5th graders could be counted on to quiet down and listen close whenever I pulled out our read aloud book (Holes by Louis Sachar). Take some time to focus on and enjoy your stories-whether a novel, a classic movie, or reality tv. Humans of all ages enjoy and learn from stories, don’t worry about wasting time, just enjoy it!

  13. Structure!!

    This is huge! I know that you’ve probably heard that you should have some kind of daily routine from every blog out there and your own mother. There’s a reason for that. Structure is vital for kids because it takes away from uncertainty and stress and helps them focus on the task at hand while looking forward to the future. I personally love when I have a good amount of structure. I get more done, I have less to figure out each day, and can relax without stressing that I’m procrastinating on something or should be working. My schedule has been painfully unfocused this summer, but now that I’m more settled and starting a part-time job next week I’ll be able to build up a good weekly schedule.

  14. Learn from mistakes and clean them up

    This connects to #5. Not only should you forgive yourself, but you should also try to learn from your mistakes and clean them up. You wouldn’t let a kindergartner make a mess and then just walk away to play with something else. Likewise, you shouldn’t avoid taking responsibility for your own messes.

  15. Encourage yourself

    We encourage kids to follow their dreams and pursue activities that interest them, why should that change when they grow up? My career change from teacher to illustrator is scary, and feels irresponsible, but if someone else came to me for advice I’d encourage them to work hard and follow their dreams too. This blog post says it better than I ever could: (blog link- old advice)

  16. Be kind!

    If you wouldn’t say it to a child or a friend, don’t say it to yourself. I sometimes literally insult myself for “stupid” mistakes that I would never make fun of someone else for!

  17. Clean your room

    I am not always the tidiest person, but I do enjoy living in a clean, organized space. We make kids keep their spaces clean for their own good, we can do the same for ourselves.

  18. Enjoy working out

    We don’t make kids do boring workouts that they hate (besides in middle school PE). Instead they get to play soccer, jump on a trampoline, climb on the playground, or run around with their friends. Try to find a way to stay healthy AND have fun.

  19. Take breaks

    No one can focus forever.

  20. Make yourself laugh

    What’s more fun than making a kid laugh? The first ways we play with babies often have laughter as the ultimate goal-just check out all the cute youtube movies! Take time occasionally to look up funny videos for yourself, joke with a friend, or just take a life a bit more lightly. It’s worth it.

And lastly, a bonus:

  1. Growth, not perfection

    These ideas are all just ways that I could take better care of myself and enjoy life more. What matters isn’t that you’re perfect or try out every single life hack out there. The point is that you cut yourself some slack and understand that you never stop growing just because you “grew up”. We are all still learning and doing the best we can.

I hope you find this way of thinking as useful as I do. If so, sign up for my twice a month newsletter for more inspiration and art info or leave a comment below with your own ideas (they might be a lot better than mine!).

Now go have fun!