Are you and your kids going a little stir-crazy being stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic? Try to shift your perspective. Now is a good time to connect with family. Here are some healthy and productive ways to engage children: 

Focus on Family Meals 

Eating together as a family has many benefits. For one, parents can be role models for encouraging their kids to eat healthy.  

Besides better nutrition, children of families who eat together are also less likely to have behavior problems, or use drugs, cigarettes or alcohol when they get older. Children also have better relationships with parents when gathering around a table to share mealtimes. 

Kids Can Help 

Get kids involved in planning and preparing family meals. Depending on their age and abilities, there are lots of things they can do in the kitchen. Here are some ideas:  

  • 3 – 5 years old: Use a spoon to mix together simple ingredients, wash vegetables and fruit, tear greens for a salad, cut soft ingredients (think strawberries) using a strong plastic knife, spread peanut butter on bread, and press cookie cutters.  
  • 8 – 9 years old: Find ingredients in the cupboard or fridge, make a salad, whisk eggs, microwave foods, juice citrus fruit, and open cans. 
  • 10 -12 years old: Slice or chop vegetables, boil or steam vegetables, simmer ingredients on the stove, and follow a simple recipe. 

Introduce these tasks gradually and give kids time to master each one. Supervise as needed. 

You can make family meals more fun by asking children to choose themes and menus. Besides the popular taco Tuesday, how about preparing a meal with only 2 colors of food, or having an indoor picnic by placing a clean blanket on the floor.   

Stay Active 

Encourage physical activity to keep moods up and bodies healthy.  

  • Play outside if you have a yard. Play tag, skip rope, shoot hoops, or throw a football. 
  • Go for a family hike or bike ride. 
  • Encourage your children to help with active outdoor chores, such as planting the garden and watering plants, pulling weeds, or feeding the birds. Doing chores as a family is more fun, especially if you can make a game of it. 
  • When indoors, play interactive video games, like tennis or bowling. Or, have a daily/weekly family dance party.  

Turning challenges into opportunities is not easy. But creating closer bonds with your family may be the silver lining that’s needed for easier coping. 

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