7 Activities Your Child Can Do With a Concussion

Nothing. This is what most doctors advise children and teens with concussions to do during the initial part of their recovery. While a doctor's recommendation to do nothing may sound like a great way to relax, it can be downright miserable for children and teens. In this case, nothing means no activities that may be physically or mentally demanding. 

For someone with a concussion, that means no reading, no texting, no electronic media, no thinking, and very limited physical activity. This is hard on active youth who are most at risk of getting a concussion.

The length of time your child or teen will be recovering from a concussion is different for each concussion. Children and teens typically take longer to recover than adults. Realistic timeframes for a full recovery are likely to take weeks rather than a few days.

Each concussion has a unique set of symptoms. The symptoms your child has are clues about which activities they can handle. If you are unsure, check with your child's doctor to make sure that an activity is not too strenuous for your child to do while recovering from the concussion.

The key to many of these activities is to keep them from being mentally or physically strenuous. In other words, the concussion recovery period is not the time to get too fancy or wild with these calm activities.

1. Simple Crafts 

Crafts can be a good way to pass the time. There are several simple crafts that can keep your child busy without getting overwhelmed. Your child may even want to give away some of their handcrafted items as gifts to friends and family.

  • Simple friendship bracelets made from embroidery floss, small stretchy bands, or beads.
  • Simple paintings made by dropping blobs of paint on paper to create unique designs. Gently dropping paint is a way to paint without thinking.
  • Cut paper snowflakes or simple origami animals they already know how to make.
  • Use coloring books or give your child coloring pages you printed off the internet to give them a simple activity. While younger children often like coloring pages with their favorite television characters, mandala designs are popular with teens and young adults.

2. Quiet Visits With Friends 

School-age youth don't like to be away from school and their peers. Have a friend come over for a quiet face-to-face visit. This will alleviate loneliness and boredom. This may also help keep your child from feeling the need to text or use social media to maintain their friendships, making it easier to avoid screen time.

3. Simple Cooking and Baking

Make a simple yet delicious treat with your child or teen. Remember, you want to avoid anything that may require thinking to learn new skills. This is the time for boxed pudding, tasty noodles, cookie and brownie mixes, and other mostly prepared foods that are simple to put together. You can do the measuring for younger cooks, while older cooks may need less assistance.

4. Collect Found Objects Outdoors

Your child can head out to the yard or driveway to look for rocks, plants, flowers or other common objects and bring them indoors for a collection. This can get your child some fresh air and movement while calmly providing an activity for them to do.

5. Spend Time With a Calm Animal

Do you have a cat or dog that likes to snuggle, but doesn't play rough anymore? Perhaps a pet fish that shimmers while swimming in a tank? A young rabbit that enjoys lap sitting? Quiet, calm pets can provide entertainment and cuddles that won't overwhelm the senses.

6. Play in a Zen-Style Sand Garden

Do you remember the small zen gardens that were popular office decorations in the early 2000s? Create one for your child or teen to use for relaxing play. Fill a shallow container such as a casserole dish or pie pan with sand and add some small interesting objects. Your child or teen can spend time drawing in the sand itself or arranging the objects in the sand garden.

7. Take Them on a Simple Trip out to Eat

Taking your child on a quiet car ride through a favorite drive-thru restaurant can get your child out of the house for a few moments while avoiding the noise and bustle often found in restaurants. Getting a favorite treat can also provide a little mood boost after the difficult time of being alone and doing nothing all day.

A picnic in a quiet park setting –not a playground, though – that is already familiar to your child can also provide a change of scenery while avoiding thinking, loud noises or too much visual stimulation. If your child is not ready to return to school, you can take advantage of the fact that most other children will be in school during the day, and not at the park. The lack of other people can provide a calm setting your child will need.

7. Take a Really Nice Bath

You know how much you enjoy a relaxing bath? Your child can enjoy one, too. find ways to make the bath a fun experience for them. Lots of bubbles or a few containers to pour water back and forth can provide calm entertainment. You can adjust the lighting if they are sensitive to light.

A Word From Verywell

Hopefully, your child won't be home for very many days while waiting to return to school or sports. Once they return, the boredom tends to go away pretty quickly. Remind your child often of how important it is to take their time with recovery. Risking too much activity only lengthens the recovery process and can even lead to long-term effects.

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  1. Dalecki M, Albines D, Macpherson A, Sergio LE. Prolonged cognitive-motor impairments in children and adolescents with a history of concussion. Concussion. 2016;1(3):CNC14. DOI: 10.2217/cnc-2016-0001