Most parents cringe when they hear their child say, “I’m bored”. I know I did! What I heard was they wanted me to entertain him/her! One would think with all the high-tech gadgets, games, and programs online, offline, inline that being bored would not be possible. But I do know that it does happen. They actually get tired of playing/watching them.
One of the things I would do when I heard those words was to quietly and quickly go grab a rag and a cleaner-squirt bottle, hand it to them and tell them to clean the baseboards (something I rarely do). While they objected (and/or complained), I would tell them since they were bored and that means they could not think of anything to do, constructive or otherwise, and they needed me to help them to make the most of their time. This is something that is important to help our children learn how to do: to “seize the day”.
A friend of mine had her children make an “I’m bored jar”. The first time the child came with a complaint they had nothing to do, she gave them a pen and paper and had them write down everything they COULD be doing. NONE of these things were they going to do right then because they were busy writing things down. (play outside, build a tent inside, read a book, play a video game, etc.) 🙂 Next, she added some items to the list (fold laundry or sort socks, clean the bathroom, walk the dog, plan a meal, etc.) All the items were separated into individual pieces and placed in the I’m bored jar. The next time they said they were bored, they had to reach into the I’m bored jar and choose one item and do it. Whether it was one they put in or one she put in, it had to be done. Amazingly, very few times did the I’m bored jar get chosen. “I’m bored” stopped being a statement in her house.
When electronic games came into our house, I was alarmed with how much time was involved in playing them. I laid down a rule that was however long they wanted to play, they had to have read the same amount! If they read for one hour, then they could play for one hour. Sometimes on a beautiful day, I would kick them outside for a little, to cause them to figure out how to play the “old fashioned way” (without electronic gadgets!)
Children will get bored on occasion (don’t we all), but they need to be given the skills to learn how to find things to do on their own. A child who can’t find something productive to do MAY find something not so productive to do and that is something we really don’t want them to do. (quiet 2 year olds anyone?). Helping them to learn to find things to do will make your child happier in the long run; and we all know happy children are much more fun to be around!