At-home ideas to keep your kids active this holiday season
By Jordan Chingo, OTR/L
Virtual schooling, COVID-19, winter weather, OH MY! 2020 has been a year of stressors, constant change, and unprecedented times. With winter approaching and the world in a constant state of stress, it can be a lot on us, as well as our children. We may be seeing greater challenges with attention to school work, increased behaviors, and difficulty coping with small stressors. This time is stressful for us as adults, but it is even harder on our children as they may be unable to understand why things are not the way they once were. It is important during these times to give our children some extra support to achieve a more regulated state each day, which will in turn help them cope with the changes and stressors that may arise. A great way to help regulate our children is through movement! Let’s think of movement as ‘Vitamin M’. Just like other daily supplements it is important our children get movement each day. It can be very difficult to achieve this when you are stuck at home and your child’s activities are shut down. The following are some movement ideas that can be completed in the safety of your own home:
- Create an obstacle course: jumping to different marked sports of the floor, balancing on the edge of a rug, or crawling under a table could all be parts of an obstacle course. It can be fun to challenge our children to “Ninja Warrior” courses!
- Playing in the snow: building snow people, making snow forts, or making snow piles to jump in
- Snowshoeing, skiing, hiking, and skating
- Following along to some guided yoga videos or Zumba videos. There are many options on Youtube! Freestyle dance time is also fun!
- Story telling through movements: For example, doing different movements for different holiday characters or going on a winter journey (pretending to march through snow, jumping over snow creatures, etc.)
- Games such as Simon Says or Twister
- Be creative! The main take away is that getting the body moving helps avoid meltdowns and improves task tolerance in everyday activities
Vitamin ‘M’ is a super important part of development and regulation. Set up some time each day for your child to participate in these tasks to help tolerate the unexpected events that may occur and to improve attention to virtual schooling.
Another great option to help with regulation during these times is through breathing activities. Here are some great ideas for helping a child participate in respiration activities that may be more motivating than deep breaths alone:
- Straw and cotton balls can be used to complete mazes and/or races
- Paint can be placed on paper and then blown around the surface to make fun designs
- Blowing small paper balls or cotton balls from palm into a container or target
- Blowing bubbles can also be an indoor option
Movement and respiration are helpful tools in helping our children stay regulated and help with attention to virtual schooling. It is important to note that routine is also crucial to regulation. This may be more challenging to complete with juggling many things at home, but setting up a generic schedule for each day will help both you and your child know what is expected of the day, it will help you ensure all school work is completed, and that there is time in the day to integrate some of these activities in. Checklists and timers are great tools to use during this time! Maintaining a consistent schedule will also help your child maintain appropriate bedtime routines and sleep schedules. Adequate sleep is extremely important to regulation!
Though these are great options, it is also important to reflect on how we, as adults, are coping with the stressors of the world. Our children are always watching and are in tune with how we are feeling. It is important, as an adult, to take time to also regulate ourselves so that we can best support our children during these uncertain times.
If you have greater concerns with your child’s behaviors, ability to attend, or daily life skills please reach out and we can help you set up an occupational therapy evaluation for your child!
Jordan Chingo is a pediatric occupational therapist at NorthLakes Community Clinic – Ashland.