“Mahhhhh-mmmm, I’m soooo bored!”
How’s your summer plan shaping up? Do you have every hour mapped out from sun-up to sun-down, or are you ready to let the kids get creative and manage a bit of their own free time?
Chances are you’ve got a child that gets bored easily. Research shows that some children are more prone to boredom than others. Additional studies show that kids who don’t know how to overcome boredom are more likely to become depressed, anxious or fall into patterns of risky behavior. Some kids believe that joy and entertainment come from the outside in, rather than the other way around. They have trouble seeing that their own actions, commitment, and engagement is connected to their own personal life experience.*
It’s not easy to hear kids whine about being bored, so before the doldrums set in, get ready to change your tune when kids start complaining about being bored.
1. Avoid telling them what to do – DO give them a variety of ideas to cure their own boredom. Helping a child deal with boredom does not mean that the parent has to play trains for an hour. Instead, help your child find interesting things to do or work together on something that you both enjoy.
2. Avoid yelling or getting angry – DO let them sit with their boredom. If they are whining or complaining, it may be a good idea to find something that will distract you and keep you occupied, so that you aren’t paying too much attention to their discomfort.
3. Avoid denying their negative feelings – DO express empathy for your child’s struggle to learn a new skill. Say, “You seem really bored today.” Then, encourage them with words of support, such as, “I know you are unhappy and bored right now, but I’m confident that you can find something to do.”
4. Avoid getting stuck in a rut yourself – DO model ways to combat boredom. Explore new activities, find new challenges, change up the routine, get active and get your heart pumping.
5. Choose toys that allow for lots of open-ended play. Look for non-electronic toys that can be used for imaginative play. Building toys, like Legos, allow for creativity. Dress-up clothes and props let children use their imaginations in new ways.
* from “I’m Bored” – Coping With Your Child’s Ennui, Cathi Cohen, LCSW, CGP, http://www.insteppc.com/articles/Bored.pdf