When my kids were young, one of the tough parenting challenges was to resist the whine of “I’m booooooooored!”
You probably know, as I did, that research is clear: Kids need unstructured downtime. They need time when they are required to fill the void with thoughts and activities that they choose.
But in the highly structured world that we live in, some kids have very little experience in how to be bored. I have a few thoughts on that…of course!
How to give them time to be bored
This largely depends on your family’s lifestyle, but the key is to be intentional about not scheduling away the summer. If your kids are in camp because you have to work, make sure to question camps about whether they offer any downtime for kids. If the only downtime you have during the summer is a vacation, try to make sure to work downtime into your vacation schedule.
If you’re at home with them, make sure they see you busy and content during your downtime. If you always look available, they won’t look elsewhere for entertainment.
How to respond when a kid says they’re bored
Here are a few I came up with:
“Bored? What is bored?”
“How could someone with an interesting brain like yours ever get bored?”
“Great! I’ve got some chores you can do.”
or my mother’s favorite: “Get outta the house!”
How you respond is up to you, but the key here is not to give in. Let them be bored. Show them through words and actions that their boredom is not your concern.
Freedom to explore
Kids need physical and temporal freedom to make the most of all the other things you do for them. Many young people these days don’t know how to be alone with nothing to do. One of the greatest gifts you can give them is the freedom find out what they’d do if they had to solve their boredom creatively.
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