If you’ve been around kids much, you’ve most definitely heard the phrase, “I’m bored.” So many parents take that statement as an insult to their caregiving. “Oh no, my child is bored. What can I do to fix that?”
To avoid those two words, we fill our kids’ schedules with more and more activities. We take them to movies and arcades in order to fill their hours with entertainment because if our kids are bored, then by George, we must be doing something wrong. We spend pockets full of money on fancy toys and excursions and then wonder why our children aren’t grateful. It’s one thing to spend quality time with our children, and it’s another to bulge our lives in order to prevent boredom. As if that was the worst thing a kid could be…bored.
The next time you hear your child utter the phrase, “I’m bored,” try some of these smart responses that just might change your perception.
6 Perfect Responses to the Phrase “I’m Bored.”
1. That’s okay.
Somewhere along the way we’ve fallen into a misconception that boredom is a bad thing. We over-schedule our lives to the point that we don’t have time to be bored, and consequently, don’t have time to be creative.
It’s okay to be bored, because so many times, boredom ignites creativity and exploration. Especially if boredom is supervised, children who are left to ponder their boredom will eventually find something to do. This might mean inventing a new game or playing pretend. A lot of times when any of my four children will come up to me and say, “Mom, I’m bored,” I’ll say, “That’s okay. You’ll come up with something.”
I suppress the impulse to immediately fix things for them—to find them an entertaining alternative. Nearly every time I leave it up to my children to fix their boredom, they’ll find something beautifully unexpected to do like go on a pretend camping trip outside or setting up a lemonade stand.
2. Oh you’re bored? I have something for you to clean.
This one works every time. If you don’t like to hear the phrase I’m bored, the perfect response is, “Oh, I have something for you to clean.”
Some parents even have a boredom jar full of chores. If a child utters the phrase, they are required to choose from the boredom jar. It is the most miraculous cure for boredom I’ve ever seen.
3. Find something to read.
Reading is one of the most beneficial activities your child can engage in. Not only will it improve their fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary, but they can discover new worlds they never would have otherwise.
If your kids find themselves becoming bored, try introducing them to Harry Potter and his Hogwarts friends, or Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. There are fascinating new places out there to explore without having to leave your own room.
4. Have you been outside yet?
Being inside awhile can put anyone in a funk. If kids (or adults for that matter) find themselves without anything to do, it’s time to go outside. A little bit of sunshine and fresh air can completely turn your attitude around.
Turn “I’m bored” into a walk around the block or a bike ride to the park. It’s the perfect reset for a little sluggishness.
5. What have you created lately?
Before you refer kids to a screen, try asking them what they’ve created lately. Have they painted, drawn, or played a musical instrument lately? Being bored actually gives us the opportunity to create. Instead of offering your child a remote, try handing them a paintbrush. Get out your old guitar from college and direct them to YouTube where they can learn to play for free. Or try a ukulele for kids! Musician Authority has a great beginners ukulele guide.
6. Let’s do something together.
A lot of times when one of my kids aren’t sure what to do, it’s because they need a little guidance. My final line of defense to the phrase I’m bored is to suggest we do something together. If I’m cooking dinner, I’ll ask my son if he wants to help me chop the veggies. If I have some free time on my hands, I’ll suggest we play a board game together or read a book together.
I’ve found that the claim of boredom is often a query for attention. Doing something together is what kids love most of all and you’ll soon find that they weren’t bored at all—they just wanted a friend to hang out with.