This is something I used to hear every day. From the moment my daughter would drop her backpack onto the floor at the door, the words “I’m bored," would come out, with long, drawn out vowels. As a parent scrambling to make dinner, hearing those words were similar to nails on a chalk board. I would always look around the space she was in, hands up in frustration, and remind her of all of the toys she had at her disposal. Alas, she never wanted to play with those items. So, I would have to stop what I was doing, and play with her. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good kitty cat/puppy dog game, just like the rest of you, but playing this daily was starting to interfere with the other things on my list that needed to get done. So, I had to come up with a plan:
1) It is 100% okay to let them just be bored. It is not our job as parents to constantly be at their disposal for entertainment. Isn’t this why parents hire clowns for birthday parties? Being bored is important for our children’s cognitive development. If we are constantly making up things for them to play, we are taking away from those magical moments where they use their creativity. Let them sit in their boredom and learn to create.
2) Too much is too much. I had an ‘aha moment’ a few months ago when looking around the room at all of the toys, hands up in frustration. My daughter just had too many things to choose from. While it was clean and organized, it was just too much. No wonder she didn’t want to play with her toys. There were too many things to choose from and it was overwhelming. So, the next day, (this is important) while she was at school (make sure they are not home or in the room when this is happening), I packed up 70% of the toys and put them in storage. When she got home, she had no idea that they were missing. She was able to see her items more clearly and immediately starting playing with them. I didn’t need hear any complaints about boredom. In six months, when she becomes bored with these toys, I’ll make the switch again, reintroducing her to her ‘new’ old toys.
3) For those parents, like myself, who always seem to have things on the go, try setting up loose items on the kitchen table (or whichever room you’re in), and tell them to explore them. Sometimes, they just want to be in the same space that you’re in and may not need you to entertain them. My personal favourites are paint, paper, small cardboard boxes, stickers, scissors, markers, glue, and a couple magazines. You can suggest they make a trap, or a vision board, or birthday cards. Or, maybe put out something sensory, like Playdoh or Ooblek. If you’re in a bedroom folding clothes, suggest they make a fort with pillows and blankets.
4) Finally, my last tip may not be for everyone – screen time. I’m very selective about what my daughter can use the family iPad for. I try not to use technology as a substitute for hands on experiences, but with our world becoming more and more technological, it’s a pretty important skill that children need to develop. I have found some excellent apps that are educational and fun, that we allow her to play. Here are our top ones:
· Teach Your Monster – this is a ‘learn to read’ program.
· Prodigy – Our absolute favourite math game. We play this via web browser.
· Khan Academy Kids – focuses on reading and math
So, next time you hear ‘I’m boooored’, try one of these tips and hopefully, your child/ren will be bored no longer.