What does wellness look like for kids?

emotions growth needs play wellness Aug 19, 2022

Wellness has been a big topic lately around the house.


I’m on the local Wellness Committee for the medical school, and also just spoke at the local high school with incoming freshman about their wellness.


I’d love to share with you what I shared with the kids – and what we’ve been missing as adults re: wellness.


You see the wellness committee (bless them) - lots of wellness committees - look at wellness as a state of happiness that one achieves. As if that is the goal.

Others look at it as thriving instead of just surviving - but what does that really mean?


First of all, wellness is not prescribed. It’s not the same for every person.

And it’s not about having some menu of meditation, yoga, and volunteer programs.


Here’s why:

As a pediatrician, I think about wellness in a different way:

Meeting needs and GROWTH.


Our job is to grow – we are constantly growing and evolving into a new version of ourselves.

What do we need to continue to grow?


Well, first we need to meet our basic needs, our physical needs, like nutrition, movement, safety and sleep.


And then there are our emotional, mental and spiritual needs - how our brains and social connections grow.


It’s so easy to picture what babies need to grow:

Milk (nutrition), movement, safety, sleep, love, connection, play


Guess what?

Older kids, and adults - we all need the same things.


Wellness is listening to what our bodies and brains need to continue growing.


How do you listen to your physical body? 

– listen for the importance of hunger signals, thirst, tired

– when you hear those signals, meet the needs


How do you listen to your brain?

– emotions!


And what is the biggest help for brain growth, at all ages?



Yes, we all need to play. Kids through adults.

Play means enjoyment, recreation, exploring, curiosity

Play is where our brains and bodies grow.

Get curious, creative, experiment - and learn what works or doesn’t work for us.


Play can look like many things:

Trying new foods, or different combinations

Dancing in the kitchen


Movement of any type - walking, hiking


My favorite moments - and most productive in a large sense - are when I disconnect and “play” - go for a walk with Max and let my mind run loose. I have the greatest ideas then. I let my mind play.


When our kids are all structured and scheduled, where are their times to let loose? Get bored and let their minds wander?


Let it go. And let it grow.


Wellness is about continued growth. It looks different for everyone.

But it’s all about letting yourself play, and growing along the way into the person you will become.


Check out the Family in Focus with Wendy Schofer, MD Podcast!

Listen Now!

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