Kids and Boredom

“Yes, dear.”
“I’m bo-ored”
“That’s nice”
*Insert pout face here*
“Well why don’t you do something about it.
I’m not going to fix it for you.”
At this point they walk away… and 5 minutes later they are happily playing.
Do you hear “I’m bored” a lot?
I know I do, and I know it’s especially bad when my kids add an extra syllable to bored.
I know they want me to find something fun for them to do. And sometimes I will. We may play a game, read a book, or do a craft.
But often the conversation plays out exactly as I’ve written. What is your typical response to “I’m bored”?
I hear all the time of parents that are afraid to let their kids get bored. They’re afraid they may cause trouble, become a couch potato, or any number of “bad” things. So, they fill their kids’ days with lessons, enriching activities, or just flat out entertain them all day long. It sounds exhausting and it is exhausting.
Truthfully, I can’t really blame any of us parents for trying. Because that’s what we’re doing… we’re trying. Trying to give our kids wonderful experiences. Trying to make sure we give our kids plenty of quality parent time. All of that is good.
But, what we’re forgetting is to let them be bored.
Let them be bored. You’ll be amazed at what they will create.
My girls have made an elaborate dinosaur nest complete with Barbie babysitter, and they played with it for hours. They’ve become superheroes, mermaids, and princesses. The stories they create are amazing.
Sometimes they’ll just work puzzles, color, or look at books. But, they came up with the idea on their own. I didn’t tell them what to do.
As I was writing this post, my girls took all their little Lego people on a camping trip, complete with lots of giggles and extreme Lego sports. We were happily coexisting that afternoon. I had pen to notebook and they had their imaginations.
The dinosaur nest with Barbie babysitter
Let them be bored. I’m not telling you to stop playing with your kids or to ignore them for hours at a time. I certainly don’t do that.
What I am telling you to do is to give them some down time.
Don’t constantly entertain them. Give them the opportunity to figure out what entertains them. Let them use their imagination. Let them make up stories or elaborate play scenes. Let them race their Matchbox cars down your banister and see what happens. Let them have fun and let them be bored.
Let them figure it out for themselves.
Do it while they’re still children because teenagers who haven’t learned to entertain themselves WILL become couch potatoes.
I want to hear from you. Do you let your children be bored? Do you feel it’s important? Why or why not?

Here are some great posts for further reading on this topic:
Boredom: The Gateway to New Ideas from Slow Family Living
The Benefits of Boredom by Richard Louv

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Terri is a writer and mom of two elementary-aged girls. She has a passion for learning and is always looking for ways to make learning fun. You can find her at Better Than Homework where she shares fun learning activities or Creative Family Fun where she shares art, craft, and family fun ideas.

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