Tired of the dreaded mantra, "I'm bored."
Every parent hates hearing this familiar line from the tot-through-teen lexicon, “I’m bored.” Like chalk scraping on a chalkboard, there’s nothing more irritating than the ennui mantra. How do you translate what your child really means? Are they wanting entertainment, an emotional connection, or are they dissatisfied with life?
The common chord of the boredom complaint often strikes a sour note with parents. Before turning a deaf ear, try to figure out what’s behind your child’s boredom.
Cure discontent with these boredom busters
Build a strong bond with your child. Single-parent families move at such a fast pace that often our children don’t have enough time talk about their thoughts and feelings. “I’m bored” may reveal your child’s emotional need to gain one-on-one attention with you. Going a walk, playing a board game or even taking a drive where your child has your undivided attention may solve the problem. Just remember to turn off your cell phone to avoid interruptions.
Welcome downtime. Does your child’s complaint repertoire consisting of one note—“I’m bored”—a response to a jam-packed schedule or over-stimulation? Then give your child the interlude of downtime. Perhaps their tired bodies or minds need a rest. Allow them to do absolutely nothing, nap or sleep in.
Avoid the trap of cyber-worlds. Has screen time killed your children’s imaginations? Have they forgotten the art of entertaining themselves? Screen time (TV, Wii, and video games) can suck the imagination out of your child’s life. Turn off addictive, quick-fix boredom busting, passive activities like watching TV and playing video games. Turn on their imaginations to old-fashioned play that activates creating, thinking, exploring, contemplating, and connecting. How can they get to know an important person—themselves—if they’re never tuned into their own ideas and ingenuity?
Sidestep boredom with intentional boredom. Before scrambling to find ways to stimulate, entertain or engage your children, ask, “Is this an opportunity for my child to figure out what do to on his own?” If they can’t amuse themselves as children, how will they know how to be resourceful as an adult? Intentional boredom stimulates the imagination, independence and interpersonal skills.
Engage your child in community service. If your child is dissatisfied with their life, volunteering to help those who struggle may help them gain a broader perspective, plus it teaches compassion.
Enjoy reading? The Children's Literacy Center Youth Council is a volunteer organization for high school students in Colorado Springs that teaches leadership, responsibility and the importance of volunteering for life. They teach teens how to tutor others.
Love horses? Volunteer spending several hours a week helping kids with special needs gain confidence, improve balance, and acquire cognitive abilities and horseback riding skills. The Colorado Springs Therapeutic Riding Center helps teen volunteers learn about disabilities, horses, riding equipment, and therapeutic activities.
Or spend time with a lonely senior. Help out at an animal shelter.
Re-direct your child. Entertaining your child is not your job. The “I’m bored” chant is a child’s way of saying, "I don’t want to think of something to do. You figure it out for me.” If this all-too-familiar pattern drives you nuts, avoid being ambushed by the Bored Game. Here’s how it works.
“Mom, there’s nothing to do. I’m bored.”
“It’s a beautiful day. Why don’t you go for a ride on your bike?”
“It’s too cold/hot outside.”
“Why don’t you play checkers with your brother?”
“That’s no fun.”
“Go build something with your Legos®.”
“I can’t think of anything to build.”
“Why don’t you read a book?”
“I don’t want to.”
“What about playing with (name anything)?”
After your child rejects all of your best suggestions, you feel your blood pressure rising.
Try saying, “What can you do that’s more interesting?”
Allow your child take responsibility. If your child persists in grumbling, say, “You’re so creative. I’m confident you can think of something to do.”
When all else fails, pull out the chore chart. Children love household tasks, right? Create a chore chart listing age-appropriate chores. When your child’s bellyaching turns your stomach into a knot, point to the chart. Give your child a choice, “Pick a chore or find something to do.” It’s amazing how quickly their creativity kicks into high gear.
For more information:
“I’m Bored” fun video of kids on vacation in France. The song is great.
14 W. Bijou St
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
2928 Straus Lane, Suite 100
Colorado Springs, CO 80907
Office hours: Monday - Friday 8:00am-5:00pm
3254 Paseo Road
Colorado Springs, Co 80909