The Season of “I’m Bored!”

I’m back–after being in Israel and Jordan for two weeks, and then teaching for a week in Missouri.

The Season of “I’m Bored!”

It’s summer, and the long anticipated freedom from the classroom has faded, and now the on-going refrain from your child is “I’m bored!”  It doesn’t take long for those words to hit a raw nerve in any parent.  We either begin to see our chid as lazy, or we are critical of ourselves for not planning enough to keep our child busy.

The truth is, bored children are not being lazy.  Research shows that when your child says  “I’m bored,” they are in a negative state of tension, that is much like when an adult is stressed.  Your child is so frustrated that they are unable to focus ini order to begin doing something.  They have a higher heart rate and increased levels of cortisol.  They are not being lazy!

The real question is what’s a parent to do when this state develops.  Here are four things you can do as a parent:

1.  First, step back and take a deep breath.  Relax.  You don’t want to add stress on top of the stress you child is already experiencing.

2.  Don’t jump in and try to fix things by making suggestions.  You’ll only end up more frustrated.   Instead, try sitting down with your child and listen to what they are experiencing.  Talk face-to-face to your child about what they are experiencing.  Sometimes just talking about it breaks the impasse.

3.  Limit their screen time.  Don’t depend on TV, movies, or video games to solve the problem.  These are only temporary fixes that eventually prolong the sense of boredom.  In fact, anything that stimulates your chid is likely to add to their experience of boredom.

4.  Encourage them to play outside.  We have a neighbor whose kids are always playing outside.  They are creative, love to climb trees, and have inspired other kids in the neighborhood to play outside.  I watch them and it reminds me of my childhood–we didn’t have TV or any other screen at home.  Summer is meant to be a time to play outside.  Very seldom will you hear a child who plays outside say they are bored.   I sure don’t remember ever being bored.

Question:  How did you deal with summer boredom when you were a kid?

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