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CHKD Blog

Two kids bored and sitting on the couch.

Parenting Tips: Managing Your Child's Boredom

As school ends and the longer days of summer approach, it is inevitable that parents and caregivers will hear these three words from nearly every age child: “I am bored.” The good news is, there are benefits to boredom!

Actually, the life skills that children learn from handling boredom is where the benefit comes in.

First, it may help to figure out what your child is really saying when they utter the infamous statement, “I’m bored.” Are they hungry, tired, feeling disconnected or disinterested, or looking for something to do?

Stop! Resist the urge to drop everything and squelch the boredom by entertaining them. Resist the urge to turn on technology and distract them from their boredom. If hunger is not truly present, resist the urge to let them graze from the kitchen cupboard or fridge.

Try this instead:

  • Ask them to investigate their own feelings of boredom. “I wonder what that is about. Sometimes people feel bored when they are hungry, sleepy, lonely, or cannot think of anything to do. What do you think is going on with you?”
  • Proceed accordingly. If they are hungry, they can make a healthy snack. If they are sleepy, they can take a rest. If they are lonely, they can get a hug, or make a plan to do something with you or a friend later.
  • If they are looking for something to do, it helps to be proactive. At the beginning of summer, have them make a list of their interests and ideas, or goals for the summer. When they are bored, they can pull out the list and work from it or add to it. Children are more likely to follow through with activities and projects if they have input.

Other ideas include:

  • Reading a great book or joining a book club.
  • Taking a daily run or joining a running program.
  • Sorting through toys or clothes and giving away what no longer fits their age or style.
  • Doing a woodworking, an art project, or planting a garden.
  • Making a podcast or video.
  • Honing their soccer or dance skills.
  • Creating and producing a play with the neighborhood kids.

However, let us not be too quick to see boredom as a problem to be solved. Two of the most important benefits from boredom are the development of creativity, and the ability to delay gratification.

  1. When we allow children to experience boredom, they have an opportunity to use their imaginations to fill in the tedium. I love watching my 6-year-old granddaughter create intricate play scenarios with a few Polly Pocket toys and an abundance of imagination.
  2. When they are still, quiet, or unproductive for a period of time, it allows them and us to pause and reset our stress system. They learn that the world with all of its opportunities and its challenges, will be waiting, on hold, until they choose to reconnect.

Those are great skills to practice and perfect for any time of the year.

During these longer summer days, be sure to check out CHKD parenting resources and classes at CHKD.org/ParentingResources, and for a list of family activities and adventures visit MyActiveChild.com.



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About Michele Tryon, CCLS

About Michele  Tryon, CCLS Michele Tryon, CHKD community outreach coordinator and parent educator has worked with children and families for 30 years, providing services in the hospital, home, school and community setting. Michele is a Certified Child Life Specialist, a Certified Positive Discipline™ parent educator, a nationally recognized trainer/consultant for Nurturing Parenting Programs™ and co-author of The Nurturing Program for Parents and Their Children with Special Needs and Health Challenges©.