How many times have you heard the statement ‘I’m bored’ from your children? Once you heard this, what was your next step?
No, you are not bored you have so many toys to play with.
What about doing x?
Have you thought about having a go at y?
Boredom is possibly a sign that your kids are overwhelmed and don’t know where to turn due to so many choices. It could also be that they are so used to someone else problem solving and entertaining them, why should they bother to sort their own boredom out.
I take boredom as a teachable opportunity; it can help your children in life by teaching them:
To problem solve
To think creatively
To simply be, in peace and be ok with this
To get outside
To teach themselves life skills
To think outside the box
We have a role to play in modelling and guiding but our role in boredom is not to fix.
Here are my top tips for helping your child to overcome boredom:
Have a toy, playroom or bedroom sort out. Less is more when it comes to children. Have fewer things out so that they can see it, play with it and enjoy it. When their enjoyment fades, swap the toys around. I used to find that simply moving a toy to another part of the house used to bring out a new interest and hours of play.
Consider putting some toys to one side in the garage or a cupboard for you to rotate them.
Ensure your child always has access to books or audiobooks. Audiobooks are especially useful, as there are only so many times you can read ‘Elmer’ in one day! Books allow your children to get lost in imagination, problem solve through story and understand emotions.
Have a Family Meeting whereby you brainstorm and discuss all the options the kids have available to them when they ‘think’ they are bored.
Screen time can be a major inhibitor to creativity and problem solving, although I am the first to admit it is a very useful parenting tool! However, in order to stop it being the default to boredom, why not create some agreed rules around screens, How much time across the day can they be in front of a screen? What does the word‘screens’ mean in your household?Do the same rules apply to parent as well as child?
Establish a routine for your children where they do similar things at similar times each day. Children love routines it helps them feel safe and secure, they can anticipate their days and prepare mentally for what is to come.
Set up a boredom basket; fill it with an array of items from crafting to cooking to reading, this can be done with your kids. These bits do not need to be purchased separately, simply find the long forgotten toys around your house and pop them in a basket or a drawer ready for when your children declare boredom, simply point them in the direction of said basket.
Sit with your children and create an acrostic poem using the word BORED, where each letter stands for something they could do, display it on the fridge:
B – be creative, cook, build something
O – outside play
R – read, read and read some more
E – exercise, earn some money
D – do something for others, or do something kind
If your child comes to you with the ‘I am bored’ statement, ask them an open-ended question in return, ‘What could you do then?’. If they come back with ‘I don’t know’ as we know they will, you say ‘Well, what if you did know’.
The skills your child learns in fighting boredom will lead to adults who can think for themselves, who are problem solvers and who can think creatively.
As a slight caveat to my words above, use your parental judgement, in whether declaring boredom your child is trying to communicate another need that they do not know how to express, are they hungry, thirsty, need a hug, need some time with you? Show empathy rather than sympathy for their boredom plight.