So often we, as Child and Youth Care workers, direct the vast majority of our time, effort, and attention toward the children and youth in our care – a level of dedication that is admired and emphasized in classrooms and training programs. Is it any wonder then that our profession is plagued by such a high burn-out rate? In striving to be as effective as possible are we forgetting to care for ourselves? I ask because I think the ideal of personal development and self-care is a professional competency that is too often neglected. For my Child and Youth Care class I have to prepare a presentation regarding one of the competencies put forth by the ACYCP; I chose to focus on personal development and self-care. I was really hoping to get as much input from other Child and Youth Care workers as possible. What are your thoughts about the importance of personal development and self-care? Is this a neglected competency? Do you actively seek to develop personal attributes such as self-awareness, wellness, and so on? How? How do you deal with work stresses (e.g., exercise, meditation, journaling)? What about the separation between personal issues and professional issues? I know that’s a lot of questions but I’m hoping to be able to get a good feel for what other professionals are thinking, experiencing, and wanting. Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated!
Take good care,
As CYCs I believe it is extremely important for us to implement self-care.
As professionals we have to model behaviour that is healthy and effective for children, youth and families. As an ECE (and Child and Youth Care student) I make sure to take the time I need for myself when I find myself getting overwhelmed. I actively try to search out personal tools to help me relax and take care of myself. However, the duties of life often take control and self care is put on the back burner. I've started taking a relaxation yoga that I absolutely love. I am still working on the motivation to do it every day, but even just looking forward to my weekly class, and leaving everything at the door, is a big part of my self-care!
When we're working with children, youth and families, whether in crisis or just in day-to-day interactions, wer'e going to be faced with things that are triggers for us. We're going to feel overwhelmed, stressed, and burnt out at different times throughout our lives and for different reasons. So we have to realize how important self care is and practice that. How much more we can support and help others if we can support and care for ourselves?
You asked several questions so I will address the issue of self care. I agree that this is something that is very important but often neglected! I believe this can be helped by a combination of the employer and the employee.
Some places I have worked for before offer a personal day paid each month, vacation time, and pay for workshops. These can all refresh an employee and take stress away from the workplace. Unfortunately not every employer sees the need or has the resources to do all these things.
Some things I do personally to take care of myself are: take time for myself outside of work (leave work at work as much as possible), ask for help from coworkers when I feel overwhelmed, and go for runs to de-stress after a hard day at work. I have found running to be particularly helpful because it relaxes me and takes my mind off of everything that is causing me stress. I can make goals for myself and feel like I am doing something just for me.
Take care and good luck on your assignment!
I totally agree with Katie. I am a Student Support Worker (and Child and Youth Care student) for our local school board. I service students and their families of African Nova Scotian descent and First Nations/Aboriginal heritage. The job is very challenging at times, and for my self-care I have decided to take a few weeks off from my job to be just a 'parent'. We have finalized an adoption and I am needed at home. Now that I'll have some time to focus on 'me' and my own family, I can get balanced again and be a better support for my families and students.
It is true that burn out happens within 5 years of being Child and Youth Care worker....I'm not ready to be burned out, just need to take care of 'me' so I can take care of 'others'.