Many families schedule their children’s lives to avoid boredom, with trips, social gatherings, camps, and extracurricular activities. But never letting your child experience boredom is not doing them any favors; in fact, you are missing an important opportunity to develop cognitive and social skills in your child.
In fact, boredom is such a good thing for kids and families, that I recommend all families have an unstructured day or afternoon once a week. During this time there are no specific plans. Just hanging out, empty, time. This sort of time is important because it creates an opportunity for boredom.
So how do you react to your child’s boredom?
When your child states, “I’m bored” provide up to 3 ideas of activities that they can do. Provide your child an idea from each of these three categories:
After you provide the three options, leave the choice to your child. Most of the time, your child will be horrified by all of your suggestions. That’s fine. You don’t need to provide any more options. Your child needs this down time to think and decide how to manage their own boredom.
If your child tells you that they are still bored after you respond with ideas, simply respond with, “Okay.” Boredom is something that your child needs to figure out on their own. And while you should help them think of a few things to do, it’s up to them to engage.
While your child laments about what to do, start doing something yourself. Cooking, reading, a puzzle, or a chore. Most of the time, your child will come and join you in whatever you are doing and you’ll have a chance to have quality time with your child.
Embrace the value of boredom for your child’s brain and for your relationship.
I am an award-winning scientist, educator, author, and a mom. I help parents accomplish their goals for themselves and their families.
You have successfully joined mailing list. Don't forget to add us to your contacts!