“I’m Bored.”

“My chilBoredd complains about being bored and expects me to drop everything to entertain him.”

How do we respond to such a common statement? Often parents feel the need to fix every problem their children have, including boredom. Children spend many hours a day in front of screens (TV, computer, video games) and are used to being instantly entertained. The problem with screens is that they diminish creativity. When the appeal of these entertainment devices wanes, children look to parents to instantly meet their need. Often times, parents may try offer suggestions, but find nothing will they do is good enough.

Here are some possible responses:

  • Ask your child what ideas they have to solve their problem. If she says “I don’t know”, suggest that you have faith in them to work it out.
  • Listen empathetically and validate their feelings without giving solutions. Something like, “I understand, I sometimes feel bored myself.” If your child continues on about it, continue to listen  and acknowledge with noncommittal sounds like ‘Umm, Uh-huh.” Eventually your child will get so bored with you and your unwillingness to handle his problem that he’ll find something else to do.
  • Say, “That’s good. Maybe your mind and body need a quiet break. Would you like to learn how to meditate?” She will likely turn and run the other way. If she takes you up on your offer, go for it. It would be a great strategy for her to learn.
  • Set limits for screen time so that your kids are used to being creative and resourceful rather than passive and dependent on for entertainment.
  • Let your child know you’d happily show them how to do laundry or cook a meal as a solution to boredom.
  • Children can learn it’s up to them to determine how they will spend their free time. They can learn self-reliance in this area, and that boredom can lead to creativity and something new and exciting.
From: Nelsen, Jane, Lynn Lott, and H. Stephen Glenn. Positive Discipline A-Z. Third Edition. United States: Three Rivers Press, 2007. Print.
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2 Responses to “I’m Bored.”

  1. Jody Prentice says:

    I liked this article and feel it will be handy for my 8 year old daughter, especially over the holidays. She often complains about being bored within about 2 minutes of turning off the television/computer. Often, on the weekends, she will also declare that she REALLY NEEDS a playdate with a friend. While that may be true some of the time, I often think it is because she can’t figure out how to self entertain. As a parent, I forget to see that her boredom is her problem to fix. I can guide her, but she needs to learn how to fix it herself. Thanks for the tips.

    • parent says:

      Hi there Jody. I know it’s been awhile since you wrote us but I just posted a tip on how to overcome boredom on our Facebook page and thought you might be interested in it. Check us out and “like” our page for more info like this: https://www.facebook.com/parentednetwork. Thx for your interest in PEN!

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