Everyone is feeling burnt out from pandemic restrictions, and kids are no exception. It’s hard to limit activities and stay away from friends! It’s even harder when it feels like you’re the only one. 

So if your child has to quarantine due to COVID-19, and is stuck home while their friends are at school, sports, and extracurriculars, how can you boost their mood?

Connecticut Children’s pediatric psychologist Christine Chew, PhD, shares ideas and advice. 

During difficult times, our mood stays more positive if we can find fun things to do. If you help your child structure their day and plan activities while at home, it’ll have a positive impact on how they’re feeling.

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To fill free time, plan something special.

Help your child brainstorm activities to make the time at home more fun, so they have something to look forward to.

Even if the activity is familiar, you can find ways to make it special. For example, if you’re planning to watch a movie together, turn it into a memorable event with themed snacks or a craft. If you’re going to cook something together, try a more challenging recipe.

Here are 20 ideas to get you started.


1. Go for a walk, play outside, or do a fitness challenge
2. Weather not cooperating? Try these 23 indoor activities for heart-healthy kids
3. Search online for instructional exercise or dance videos for your child’s age, like Connecticut Children’s yoga videos for kids


4. Make a scavenger hunt or obstacle course in the house
5. Play a board game
6. Build a puzzle


7. Make a countdown calendar and mark off the days until quarantine is over
8. Get out the art supplies and color, draw or paint
9. Make crafts like this calming glitter bottle
10. Build a blanket fort
11. Search for and make a new recipe
12. Plant seeds and see what sprouts before your child returns to school


13. Check out virtual museum tours, like the Smithsonian’s narrated virtual tours of the National Museum of Natural History
14. Have a non-exposed friend or family member get books or games from the library
15. Plan a themed movie viewing
16. Take a virtual vacation


17. Write letters or send care packages to the people your child wishes they could see in person
18. Work together to organize an overlooked or poorly used space in the house
19. Talk about three good things that happen each day of the quarantine
20. Have a picnic in the living room

A family plays with their dog

Other helpful tips!

Join in when you can. Encourage independent play when you can’t.

Activities are usually more fun if someone shares them, so join in when you can.

But you can’t always be available to be with your child. When you need them to entertain themselves, make sure to praise and reward them for doing so safely.

You may want to put a sticker on a chart or drop a marble in a jar for each 15 or 30 minutes your child entertains themselves. Then let them trade five stickers or marbles for a special treat or activity.

As much as possible, stick to your child’s regular routines.

Kids do better when they eat and sleep well and feel secure in the things that have stayed the same. So try to maintain consistent meal times, bedtime and other routines. Predictability goes a long way to keeping a positive mood!

Help your child see the quarantine as something positive.

Your attitude about the quarantine will influence how your child feels about it, so do your best to view your child’s time at home as an opportunity rather than a punishment. Talk up all the fun things they can do in the next five to seven days they have at home.

This is a good chance to practice positive reframing, a go-to coping tool for all ages. Here’s how.

Encourage your child to get the COVID-19 vaccine, if they haven’t already.

Has your child been reluctant to get the vaccine? You might use this experience to encourage them to reconsider. Most schools have different quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated students. The time at home may motivate your child to be more open to getting vaccinated, knowing it may help avoid future isolation.