Times of extreme boredom can be challenging for you and your children to navigate successfully. When there are no planned activities available and the complaining starts, it can be difficult not to simply step right up with a list of activities and games that will occupy your children and, incidentally, stop any complaining. It’s natural.
You want your children to be happy and engaged rather than whining, complaining, and moping. Don’t rush to your children’s aid too quickly the next time they’re bored, though. Boredom can be a powerful teacher for your child, if you are willing to let it. It can also teach you a few things. So when boredom strikes, try to be as unhelpful as possible and instead, see what your child will come up with to occupy themselves.
The first rule of boredom is that there should be no easy answers. Do not let your child fill this time with activities that are usually restricted such as television, movies, internet time, or computer games. Your goal is to help your children engage, not to help them tune out. Try to remember also, that it really isn’t your job to entertain your children all the time. Once they are old enough to make their own fun, they should be encouraged to do it!
If you can stand back and let your children solve this problem themselves, you will see that boredom is really a way to get your children thinking creatively about what they want and how they can make it happen. For example, ever notice how the best fort making happens on rainy days? This is your child’s attempt to entertain themselves in the face of inclement weather that prevents them from going outside. Instead of getting their exercise out in the yard, your child is getting it by literally moving the furniture around to construct play areas. If they are left to themselves, children will actually learn from their boredom inspired play and enjoy doing it.
Watching your child’s boredom driven play is also a good way to learn and observe their personalities. Bored children will find themselves driven to the types of activities they most enjoy. You will be able to observe whether they are more likely to choose extroverted or introverted activities, a communal game or a quiet book. This is valuable information to have in the long term and it is an important part of coming to know your child, even as they change daily. There are even some times when it is all right for you to get involved in boredom play.
If your child asks you to play with them instead of to suggest a game or activity, then feel free to join in. Child directed time together is never something you want to refuse or take for granted if you have the option. Being a part of your child’s boredom play is the perfect way to take things from boredom to excitement.