Children today have many opportunities for organized fun. Early introduction to team sports or the arts can give your child a chance to make friends and test a variety of activities. This helps her develop skills and confidence as she discovers where her talents and interests lie. However, there is a downside to having multiple planned activities. When left to entertain himself, a child may feel lost and have difficulty finding something to do.
Screens are certainly an easy distraction, whether your child is in front of the TV, watching internet videos or playing games. This is a reality of the times, and some screen activity is to be expected. However, screen use only contributes to your child’s inability to entertain herself. Screen use is a passive activity, and therefore does not allow your child to develop attention skills. This makes it harder to focus or to be creative with finding solutions to boredom. If left unchecked, screen time can easily get out of hand. Place limits on screen time and try to avoid using technology as a solution for boredom.
Instead of looking at your child’s boredom as a problem that you need to fix, view it as an opportunity for him. Being bored can actually be a great motivator to get your child thinking. When your child is bored, relax and let her be bored. Trust that she will come up with something to do. It may even be helpful to have her sit down and brainstorm a number of things she could do when faced with some downtime. When she complains that she is bored, suggest she check her list.
Regular trips to the library or garage sales will help your child keep a stash of books, comics or magazines to read. An art box stocked with glue, scissors and a variety of odds and ends that would otherwise be recycled can be brought out to combat boredom. Encourage your child to find and develop a hobby. Enlist the help of a bored child. He can help you when you are preparing a meal, working in the yard or any other household chore. At the very least, suggesting help with housework may motivate your child to find something else to do.
Be sure that you are spending quality time with your child every day. Saying she is bored may be her way of asking you for your time and attention. Enjoy unstructured family time. If you are always on a schedule or doing activities that have a specific outcome, your child is not learning how to take initiative in finding something to do. Play and interact with your child on her terms by letting her choose an activity and then follow her lead.
Once you find that healthy balance between scheduled and unscheduled activities and make time for the family to spend together, you need to trust that your child will be fine during those times when he has to find something to do. Dealing with boredom helps him develop creativity, resourcefulness and independence. Instead of rushing in to entertain your child, give him the gift of finding ways to entertain himself.