9 Ways to Make a Sick Kiddo Less Cranky

Flu season’s made a late appearance this year, and chances are some of you are stuck in the house with feverish, hacking, snotting, whining little ghouls. After the Tylenol dose kicks in, try a few of these awesome activities guaranteed to tear them away from screen time.

* from Pinterest, of course …



If your child has a cough or congested chest, sometimes a steamy shower will make her feel better. Instead of actually putting her in the shower, let her stay in the bathroom (with the door closed to keep the steam in) and draw on the mirrors. Sure, you’ll have to grab some glass cleaner and paper towels to clean the streaks off afterward, but it’s a great non-TV activity that will help her feel better, too.


Pick up some new crayons or markers and a coloring or activity book for your homebound little one. Keep a few packs on hand during cold and flu season so you’re always prepared! This is a perfect activity for sick children because they can do this lying down in bed without exerting too much precious energy. If he’s missing a fun activity at school that day — like a field trip or special guest — have him draw a picture of the activity. This can help him feel included even if he’s not able to attend.


If your sick kid is up to the task, have her help you put together an art box. Find any cardboard box around the house and have her decorate it with glitter, stickers and markers or crayons. Fill the box with colored felt and other fabrics of varying colors and textures, along with pipe cleaners, beads, sequins and glue. Encourage her to create an abstract picture based on how she’s feeling.


Play a game with your child that uses more mental than physical energy, such as Memory, Scrabble, Tic-Tac-Toe or Hangman.


Books may get tossed to the side in favor of other, more physical activities on a daily basis, but when your child is sick, a little quiet is just the thing. Serve some chicken noodle soup in a mug, cuddle up with a cozy blanket and get lost in a good story.


Your child can make a necklace or bracelet to pass the time while she’s recuperating. Set up a TV tray in her bed and supply her with some pretty beads and thin elastic thread. Tie one bead at the end of the thread, then let her string other beads onto the elastic in a pattern. Tie the two ends of the elastic and trim off the excess.


Pull out some old socks, random buttons that have fallen off shirts, plus some fabric scraps and fabric glue — and let your child’s creativity run wild. Once you have finished making your sock puppets, put on a little puppet show with your child.


Have your child lie down on a long piece of butcher paper and trace his outline with a black magic marker. Then let him decorate his likeness however he chooses.


Clean out a milk carton, glue the top closed and help your child build a birdhouse. Cut a dowel twice the length of the milk carton, and then cut a hole just large enough for the dowel to fit through on either side of the carton at the same level. Slide the dowel through and apply glue where the wood meets the carton. Cut a few other holes in the carton large enough for the birds to get through. Poke two holes in the top of the carton; thread a string through it, then tie it. Fill the feeder with birdseed and hang it from a branch outside.

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.

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