Almost every child looks forward to the summer. At the beginning of the season it seems like there are endless things to do and all the time in the world to do them. But, without structured schedules things can get boring in a hurry – especially towards the end of vacation. Summer is supposed to be a time of fun, and armed with some information and clever ideas, parents can help make summer fun again for their kids.
Many parents become frustrated or even angry when they hear the phrase “I’m bored!” It may seem as if your child is not creative or being lazy. However, new research suggests that kids who complain of boredom are not necessarily slacking off, but they are actually frustrated. They struggle to engage and find it difficult to focus and get started on satisfying activities.
While parents often assume something is wrong with their child or that they failed to bring them up with the proper skills, parents should take a different approach and help children learn how to take the first step and explore new activities themselves.
A common mistake parents make is providing their children with attention grabbers like an action movie or video games. But this is only a short-term fix to mask the boredom and can actually increase your child’s likelihood of experiencing boredom by dulling the ability to focus in quiet surroundings and think of new, innovative activities. A better alternative for parents is to use your child’s boredom to encourage your child to be a self-starter. Children need to learn how to figure out how to recognize when they are uncomfortable and how to change it.
Parents should help their bored children by practicing the technique of “active listening”. This skill involves talking to your child about their boredom and asking open-ended questions, allowing enough time for your child to think about and come up with a solution. Physical contact can help ease frustration as well. Cuddle small children, or ruffle an older child’s hair. You can empathize with your child’s boredom, but do not take responsibility for fixing the problem.
Tips for helping your child to bust Boredom:
- Take a breath. Don’t punish your child for being “lazy” and resist the urge to get angry
- Challenge your child to learn something new or try something that they haven’t done before
- Don’t jump right in. Make your child responsible for finding a solution
- Ask open-ended questions to prompt your child to make decisions on their own
- Limit screen time, including TV, video games, and computers
- Avoid the toy box. Instead, guide the child toward imaginative play
- Suggest that your child make up a game or invent a new sport
- Create a “Boredom Buster Jar” with your child and fill it with paper slips with the child’s ideas of activities to do
- Suggest chores that will make other activity options seem more appealing
- Encourage physical exercise like riding a bike or jumping on a trampoline
- Assist smaller children in scheduling play dates and teach older children how to call a friend to hang out
An important part of encouraging your child to beat boredom is practice the art of creative thinking in your daily life. Have fun and embrace your “inner child” – put together an outrageous dinner (like breakfast for dinner) or spring for a spontaneous outing. Both you, and your child will enjoy the summer and never hear the words I’m Bored again…until school starts that is.