The Parent Classroom Newsletter > What To Do When You Hear "I'm Bored"
What To Do When You Hear "I'm Bored"

Jun 23, 2010

Summer is here, which means the end of school and the end of built-in structured activities for the next 2 months. If you are like me when my children were home, you have done your best to fill up the schedule with summer camps, vacations, swim lessons….anything to keep the sentence, “I’m borrrrrrrrrred,” away from your life. Keeping children amused for this period of time is difficult to organize and also expensive.

However, boredom, as it turns out, is not such a dirty word. Researchers tell us that children follow times of boredom with creativity. Boredom leads them to create games of their own, which pricks their imagination and inventiveness. Bored kids can eventually turn to a book, or build a fort, or pull out the paints or collect bugs or make a lemonade stand.

When the chants of “I’m borrrrrrred,” enter your life this summer, here are some new ways to think about it and to deal with it:

1) “I’m bored,” can have several translations. In young children, it often speaks less about their need for something to do or someone to play with, and more about their need for parental connection. With so many activities and toys in their life, it is hard to remember that what children want most is to spend time and receive the warm attention of their parents. Give that to them this summer. When you hear, “I’m bored,” refrain from coming up with things to do. Instead, stop what you are doing, get down to their level, and really pay attention, talk, listen , and play with them. Just these moments of connection can “feed” them sufficiently, and carry them on to the next activity or imaginative adventure.

2) When you hear, “I’m bored, “ consider this: cuddle with them on the couch or lie with them on the floor, and brainstorm all the outrageous or silly things that they could do: build a rocket ship and go to the moon, make castles for the birds. Let your imagination soar and theirs will follow. By playing with them in this way, they will feel connected to you and more able to consider an actual next step for themselves.

3) Make it possible for your child to connect with nature. There is a new, ad hoc diagnosis floating around for modern-day children: “Nature-deficient Disorder.” Children adore being close to nature and can be happy for hours just digging in dirt, running in a field, throwing rocks into water, or collecting bugs. Unfortunately they are often confined to playgrounds and other activities which structure their play. Free play in natural areas does wonders for children’s creativity, self-esteem, and ability to problem solve. Make time for these activities this summer, and you will hear less of “I’m bored.”

4) Build into your schedule some relaxed family summer rituals: like twilight walks, or sleeping outside in a tent, or one day per week when you can stay in your pajamas as long as you wish. Rituals are a good way to practice what we value, in this case family connection and downtime. They are sacred moments for families and children look forward to them.

5) Be proactive. With your children, make a long list of all the things that they could do when they are feeling bored. Be creative, gathering their ideas, asking their opinions about yours, and keeping screen time off the list. Post this on the refrigerator and refer to it when needed. If nothing works, go back to the first suggestion in this newsletter, reminding yourself that what your child may really be asking for is special time with you.

Jill Shugart, M.A., MFT - 910 Tulare Ave., Berkeley, CA 94707 - 510-528-0309 -
Ca. Lic.#MFT32528



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