The winter season brings the company of gray skies, dropping temperatures, and a departing sun. This transition can pose a precarious, difficult situation for parents. You may witness a drastic change of moods in your child. Fortunately, this is a common issue that many families experience each year: you are not alone. With preparation, routine, and creativity, you can effectively mitigate the winter blues and help your child thrive in this season.
Understanding The Winter Blues
When you start to closely examine the various external factors in winter, then you can begin to fully comprehend why your child is experiencing a drastic change in temper: colder weather, the decrease in daylight hours, the shift of routines, and the heightened emotions around holidays can be overwhelming for them!
In addition, the change in duration and intensity of sunlight can cause shifts in our internal clocks and create a rise in melatonin levels: everyone is affected by this shift. However, children are particularly sensitive to this transition. You also might find that your child with a mood disorder, neurodiversity, or sensory processing issues are especially more sensitive to these changes and under-stimulation. These symptoms can include:
- Struggling with their sleep routines (falling asleep, waking up, restlessness etc.).
- Withdrawing from social situations with peers or family members.
- Drastic mood swings, lethargy and irritability.
By effectively understanding how these changes affect your child’s mind and body, you can combat the challenges that winter poses.
It’s vital for your child to find ways to engage in high sensory and high energy activities; these activities should stimulate both their minds and body. Here are some indoor activities:
- Baking and Cooking.
- Doing winter chores as a family.
- Painting and Drawing.
- Visiting indoor parks, gyms, and museums (swimming, trampolining, ice-skating, etc.).
Although outdoor activities are more rare, they can create the opportunity to soak up the sun! Vitamin D can serve an important role in elevating mood levels.
- Playing in the snow (sledding, snow angels, building igloos, visiting a snow-park, etc.).
- Planning a routine trip to the playground.
- Implementing a brisk family walk each day.
- Planning an easy, light hike.
Remember that it’s equally crucial to check in with your own body and emotional capacity while balancing your child’s low moods and needs: your needs are significantly important as well! Remind yourself to prioritize your own mental health and expectations during this challenging season.