Are your kids bored? Do they say things like ‘that’s boring’, ‘there’s nothing to do’, ‘there’s no one to play with’, ‘my toys are boring’? If you have kids old enough to string sentences together, I bet you have heard at least some of these. Would you like the secret answer for what to do when your kids are bored?
Not only is your kid bored, but they are dramatically bored. They are bored to death. When they say, I’m bored, their limbs seem to go limp and their voice lowers. And when you make a suggestion your kid flails around on the couch while whining. They are irritated that whatever you suggested isn’t as fun as a carnival ride or opening a new present.
So, what’s a mom to do?
Many of us immediately switch into the role of event coordinator. We search for something our children want to do. We go through an array of items. Do you want to paint, or bake some cookies? We could play a board game. What about that new toy you got from Grandma for your birthday. And, not always, but frequently we can’t find a task that will suffice them. It is at this point that we as moms tend to lose our cool with our kids.
They aren’t just bored, they want to be entertained.
The honest to goodness truth is, it is not your job to be an entertainer for your kids. It is not your job to be an event coordinator. It is not your job to keep your kids from being bored. So stop feeling guilty or responsible for your bored kids.
Kids are supposed to get bored. It’s a natural part of being a kid.
Being bored teaches your kid how to be alone with their own thoughts. It helps them learn to cope with quiet times and alone times. When your kid is an adult or young adult you don’t want them to always seek out the next thrilling thing to do. Our children need to learn how to deal with being alone or being without something to do. If they don’t, it can lead to kids acting out because they don’t know how to act alone.
Kids feed on excitement and new things. But that is not how the world works. Sometimes it is quiet or lonely or at a slowed down pace. As an adult we don’t have friends knocking at our door throughout the day wanting to know if we want to play. And we don’t have new toys to occupy ourselves. We don’t jump off of the furniture or swing sets…well, maybe some of us do :o)
Think about the last time you found yourself in a situation where you were bored. Were you standing in a grocery line? Were you at an airport during a lay over? Were you at the office with your tasks completed and with nothing new to start yet?
Now think about what you did when you were bored. Did you stomp your feet or complain out loud? Did you upset other people around you because you were unhappy? Did you sit in a chair and wildly swing your legs back and forth? I’m guessing you didn’t do any of those things. But your kids probably do.
So why don’t we as adults act like this?
Well, the truth is, some adults do. If you stop and think for a moment, I bet you can think of a couple of adults that act just like your kids do. But in general, why don’t adults act like this. The obvious answer is because they are adults. The better answer is, because they learned what and how to deal with being bored. And it is our job as parents to teach this to our children.
Your children can not learn how to cope when they are bored if you never let them be bored. Yah, yah, I know. You are thinking to yourself, but you don’t have to deal with my bored kid. I will tell you, better to do in now than when they are 15 and getting into trouble because they are bored.
The first step is to take a deep breath.
Don’t lose your temper. The last thing that you want is a fight. If you fight they will direct their boredom at you and be angry instead of bored.
Second, empathize with them. Ask them how they feel and let them know that you understand that they are upset. If you just get the response, I feel bored prompt them with questions. What have you been doing? Why did that become boring? Was it not challenging? Was it repetitive? etc. Often times you will find out that your child is frustrated and not actually bored.
Third, don’t pull a variety of activities out of your mom hat. It’s ok to make a few suggestions, but don’t take on the job of amusing your children. Feel free to send your kid outside. Physical play is incredibly important to kids. Childhood is when much of our core strength is built, and this core strength carries through adolescence and into adult hood. Children who are physically active tend to be physically active as adults. Give the gift of physical activity to your kid by kicking them outside of the house to play.
Fourth, encourage them to play with friends or neighbors. This is a great time for kids to play with others. If they say that’s boring, have them do it anyway. When 2 or more kids get together they can come up with the most amazing things to do. They not only get social interaction, but they learn to work together.
Bored kids learn to use their imaginations. Imaginations are so important to a child’s development. It helps them learn and grow and gives them a creative outlet. A child’s brain grows from innovation and imagination. Their little minds soak up every little thing and using an imagination makes the impossible possible
Some of the greatest ideas and inventions came from when a person was bored.
If our brains are so pre occupied by stimuli it has little room to think of new ideas. How many genius ideas have you had while taking a shower or driving in the car. It is when our minds are left to wander, our thoughts goes places they wouldn’t otherwise.
Bored kids innovate and and invent and create new things and new ideas. A card board box can become a fort. A living room floor can become a lava pit. A day dream can become a game. A thought can become a painting or a story. Your children will build amazing things that will surprise you.
Giving your child the gift of boredom is a life long gift. Tell your child why it is a good thing. They will understand you. By explaining why its so important that they solve their boredom, it will put the responsibility back on your child and then they can work to fix it.
Cheers to raising smart, happy self reliant kids.