With summer on your doorstep there is this moaning complaint (plus many variations of it!) you will hear more often than you would like to.
“Mommy, I am bored. Mommy, I am super bored. Mom, I am dying from boredom. Mom, I am booooored!!! Summer is so boring! It’s so boring here!”
Can you relate?
Even though my official job as a kid-activities blogger is to come up and create activities for kids, I am totally OK if my kids get bored (and stay bored).
I believe (so do experts!) that boredom fosters creativity and awakens child’s imagination. I have witnessed this every single time my kids got bored and eventually found something to do on their own.
Through the years of hearing “I am bored”, I believe I mastered quite a good system that embraces boredom and makes the best out of it.
Here is my step by step system of what I do when I hear “Mom, I am bored”.
What to do when kids are bored
Step 1. Acknowledge their feelings and be empathic to their struggle.
Show them that you understand that they don’t like the feeling of boredom. Listen to them reason their frustrations. Don’t be sarcastic or upset. Don’t make fun of them, don’t make faces or call them lazy. Be warm and understanding.
This is how I approach it:
“I understand you are bored and it makes you frustrated. I get like that sometimes too. It’s totally normal. Actually, it’s super cool, because now you have time to do whatever you want.”
Don’t give out any particular ideas yet. Let them come up with things by themselves.
Give it some time. I usually wait about 15 minutes to jump to Step two. If you hear another I am bored after 15 minutes try step two.
Step 2. Distract them from the negative feeling they have..
It works really well with smaller children. Tickle them, massage them and they transition into another phase much easier.
Physical contact is always great because it makes child feel not so alone.
Again, wait some time to see if this helped them transition from boredom to “I’m gonna do something” phase. If not, continue to Step 3.
Step 3. Change the location.
This usually works with anybody. When you feel stuck, you get up from the chair, walk around, go get a drink and boooom you are back on track.
Same is with kids. Get them off the couch!
Research shows that when children play in natural play spaces, they’re far more likely to invent their own games than in more structured settings — a key factor in becoming self-directed and inventive both as children and later in life.
Step 4. Turn numbed boredom into constructive one.
Now it’s been 45 minutes since they expressed their boredom feelings and it looks like your child might be in a numb boredom phase. You need to spark his boredom. It’s time to give them some ideas.
Online Summer Activity camp is a great option. This particular one offers 3 activities per day, so kids can choose their favorite or do all three of them, especially since they are all very different. Every day there are 3 activity videos posted: 1 activity something to make, something to play and something to learn.
Constructive boredom will eventually make a child create a game, make a fort across the room or even built a playdough castle.
Step 5. Ignore them and wait for it.
Now you’ve done all you could. Your job is to stay patient and don’t break. Don’t hand that tablet or TV remote controller. Not just yet. The reward is just around the corner.
“Mom, I know what I want to play!”.
You are welcome.
It was totally worth it. Wasn’t it?
Next thing you see is your kids are creating the most genius game ever.
Next thing you hear the best laugh and giggles.
Next thing you notice is a quiet house and it’s not because of kids getting on digital devices.
Pat yourself on the shoulder. You’ve done well, mama. Mission accomplished.
Since I started implementing this system I have heard less and less “I am bored” complaints, because I believe my kids learned the system as well after they went through it quite a few times so now they can lead themselves independently throughout this process from being bored to finding what to do.
What do YOU do when kids get bored?