“I’m Bored”

The words that drive parents crazy.  As a parent you look around the house or the neighbourhood and see a million things to do, but to your child, they see a big fat nothing.  Usually it’s because they want to do the one (or two) things that us parents have put an end to – say video games or really any electronic time – and so our kids, in a state of being unhappy, complain to us that they are “bored”.  Be forewarned, too, that bored starts young.  It seems children as young as 4 or 5 are pulling it out, much to their parents’ dismay.  In fairness, some of these children have no concept of what it even means and are simply parroting what they’ve heard the older children say, but sometimes it seems they actually do get it.

How do you stop a child from complaining incessantly about being bored without being the one to entertain them or being short with them?  Many parents opt for threats of chores (something I never support doing for reasons you can read about here) or tell their kid to figure it out.  Sometimes this works, sometimes not.  However, there are things we as parents can do to help our kids not only in the first moment of boredom, but in the long run.

The first is to not get mad at them for being bored.  Fact is, we’ve all been bored.  Now I must admit that as an adult I tend to look forward to a few moments of “nothing” to do, but as a kid, it can be awful to feel that way.  We need to try and remember that feeling and approach our kids with a bit of empathy when we’re faced with the words that drive us insane.  Hopefully if we approach with empathy and work with them, it will reduce the amount of time we hear these words and make sure our kids don’t resent us for our response.

One of the ways we can do this is to sit down with them and make a list of possible things they can do once they feel bored.  The important thing to remember about a list like this is that it should be made up of multiple types of activities.  There are the standbys like reading, going for a walk, calling a friend, and so on that the child can do over and over.  There are ones that may involve a bit more, but depending on the age of the child, may be more exciting, like going swimming or playing tennis at the park.  One type of activity that should also be included is the larger, longer-term project.

With summer coming, it’s a good time to talk about long-term projects anyway, but a project that a child can do piecemeal when he/she has time, is interested in seeing through to the end, and has an end product that the child can show for his/her work is a great way to make sure there is always something to do.  A child that is interested in photography, for example, can work to create a photo book, using spare time to take pictures at home and outside for it, coming up with a coherent theme for the book and then using software to put it together.  A child that likes bugs, for example, can start documenting all the bugs they can find, either drawing them or taking pictures and then trying to discover what the bugs are.  In short, long-term projects can fill a lot of gaps and a lot of “boring” time.

So next time your child is bored, don’t ignore it or give them something they can do once, but not again (or something they aren’t interested in).  Take a moment and help them help themselves.  You’ll all be thankful in the long run!

By Tracy Cassels

June 08, 2015