Snow days can be a surprisingly productive opportunity to build your child’s resilience and social and emotional skills. These skills help children form life-long relationships with others, control their strong emotions, explore and become more independent.
So don’t feel cooped up during a snowstorm! The Devereux Center for Resilient Children suggests the following five activities you can do with your child when the inevitable snow day hits this winter.
Turn off and tune in: Although snow days can be somewhat inconvenient, take this unexpected time to enjoy your child’s company. Turn off the television, cell phones and iPads and ask your child to play cards or a board game, bake cookies or participate in other fun activities around the house. Use this time to talk with your child about events happening at school, updates on their friends and their feelings. Focus on listening and appreciating the conversation.
Use your imagination: To build your child’s sense of initiative, play a game of charades or Pictionary. The ability to be imaginative and expressive is important for resilience. After all, imagination is how a child’s hopes and dreams are created!
Involve your child: As you think about the accumulating snow that needs to be shoveled, the lunch that must be made and the laundry piling up, it may seem easier to do it all yourself. Reconsider these daily routines as opportunities to spend time with your child. No matter their age, children can always participate. Give it a try and see how ordinary tasks can be reframed as fun and cherished experiences.
Help a neighbor: Snow days can provide wonderful opportunities to teach children important life lessons. Encourage your child to call on a neighbor who may be alone in the snow. Perhaps your family can help shovel an elderly neighbor’s driveway and bring over a cup of hot chocolate, or invite a child outside to play. Show your children the value of helping others and talk about how it also helps us feel better about ourselves.
Make a fort: Children benefit from knowing there is a safe place to retreat to when they are overwhelmed or need a break – especially on a day with lots of togetherness. Just like adults, children need their own space to relax from time to time. Help your child build a fort with pillows, cardboard boxes, sheets and whatever else you find lying around the house.
As a parent, every day (even a snow day!) is a chance to teach your children valuable skills to help them succeed not only in school but in life – now and for their future.
Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health is one of the largest nonprofit behavioral healthcare organizations in the country dedicated to promoting resilience, and social and emotional development, in children and their families.