While the holiday season is considered to be a time of great joy, it may not be all that your child is dreaming of. Winter break does bring the promise of a rest from schoolwork, but for kids whose families are busy with work or holiday preparations, the long days at home without friends to play with may lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness and a lot of time staring at a screen. Nonetheless, there are many winter break activities for kids away from the screens to help your child cope with loneliness and make the most out of the holiday season.

Make Time for Emotional Check-Ins

Though it is important to remember there is no right or wrong way to cope with loneliness, offering your support can be very beneficial. One great way to connect with your child during this time is to regularly check in with them about how they are feeling. While they may be hesitant to share their emotions, gently encouraging your child to talk about their feelings is an effective and impactful way to remind them that they are not alone while giving them practice putting their feelings into words.

Moreover, by holding regular emotional check-ins, you are creating the opportunity to acknowledge their feelings, letting them know that it is good to talk about emotions, and opening the door for future conversations about their mental and emotional well-being.

Encourage Their Creativity

Getting crafty can be an excellent way for your child to cope with loneliness by channelling their emotions and finding an escape through creative expression. Looking for easy craft or STEM project ideas? Consider some of these winter-themed arts and crafts for kids:

  • Make Homemade Gifts: Taking the time to make homemade gifts for family and friends can be a fun and meaningful way for your child to express their love and gratitude during the holiday season.
  • Create Paper Snowflakes: Turn your home into a winter wonderland by decorating with DIY paper snowflakes. All they will need is some paper, a pair of scissors, and a little bit of holiday spirit.
  • Blow Ice Bubbles: Upgrade your child’s bubble experience into something magical by taking it outside to see how bubbles change when blown in temperatures below freezing.
  • Play with Play-Doh: Make this playful experience even more special by having your child make their own DIY Play-Doh with only flour, water, and salt.
  • Write A Story: If your child likes creating their own stories, encourage them to write it down and make their own mini book, complete with its very own illustrations.
  • Build With Legos: Have your child make their creative masterpieces from these classic building blocks and explain them to you when you get home.
  • Try Some Science Experiments: Challenge your kids to bring out their inner scientist with some of these safe and easy winter science experience for kids. That’s right. They have fun and learn while picking up ice with string, experimenting with salt and ice, making a snow volcano, and more!

Teach Them Ways to Stay Active

Encouraging your child to find activities that allow them to be active is a great way to get their daily exercise in and lift their spirits. Depending on the weather, there are many great outdoor winter activities such as building a snowman, having a snowball fight, or going on a scavenger hunt for your child to enjoy. However, if the weather takes a turn, there are still plenty of ways your child can stay active from inside your home, such as wax paper ice skating. All they will need is two pieces of wax paper placed under their feet and they will be gliding around your floor as though they are skating on ice in no time.

Enjoy Quality Time Together

Though it can be difficult leaving your children at home to go to work during the holiday season, the time apart can motivate you to make the most of the time you do have together. Some fun and memorable indoor activities that may be right for your family include:

  • Family Movie Nights: Enhance your movie nights by helping your child make their very own pillow/blanket fort before tucking yourselves in to watch your holiday favorites.
  • Family Game Nights: Keep your children occupied with a fun-filled family game night. From classic card games to indoor scavenger hunts to holiday trivia, there are various ways to challenge and engage your kids while drawing out their competitive nature.
  • Dance Parties: Dancing it out with your kids is a sure way to bring some smiles and laughter to your home, especially if you add in a fun pose every time the music pauses.
  • Holiday Lights Drives: While it may be too cold to walk around to see all the holiday lights, consider piling into your vehicle for a ride around the neighborhood to see the seasonal decorations.

Though isolation can come with their winter break, the holiday season does not have to be one of loneliness or excessive screen time for your child. There are countless activities for kids to enjoy and strategies for parents to guide them through these emotions. To learn more about how Zumbro Valley Health Center can help you support your child as they cope with loneliness, visit zvhc.org or call 507.289.2089.

If you or your child is experiencing a mental health crisis, call the crisis response line at 844.274.7472, text MN to 741741, or call 988 anytime.