When you’re a parent or grandparent, it’s inevitable that you’ll need to entertain youngsters because you’ll hear the refrain “I’m bored” often!

So what do you say and do that helps beat boredom? Here are a few ways to respond, as well as fun ideas to keep kids entertained without screens.

First and foremost … our kids live their lives structured and managed. From school, sports events, birthday parties, relative visits, etc., they encounter a life where their stimulation is structured and placed before them.

When your child is faced with free time, they don’t have many of the internal skills needed to create their own stimulation besides phones and video games. And sometimes? They are looking to us for relief strategies.

When they say “I’m bored,” the underlying conversation may be:

“I’m not engaged.”

“I’m lonely.”

“I feel disconnected.”

“I don’t know how to entertain myself.”

“I need you.”

“I miss you.”

In essence, “I need something. I don’t know what it is. I need to explore my options to satisfy my brain and heart. Can you help me do this?”

Internal satisfaction is a skill we learn as we develop and grow.

So mom, dad, and grandma and grandpa, drop the guilt. This is your extraordinary opportunity to help your child grow their emotional intelligence and find innovative ways to meet their own needs that fosters long-term self care.

With that said, here’s how you can help.

Dependent upon your child’s age, the next time your kid says “I’m bored,” you can smile and say kindly “I get it. I’m happy you have some free time. Now you can figure out something that isn’t boring to you.”

Over time and with repetition, as you give your child more free time, this response will start to work.

Another option is to create a list together of creative options that inspire your child. Put it on your fridge, and encourage your child to look at the list when they tell you how bored they are.

Below is a sample list we created to start the conversation of exploring free time and increasing your child’s ability to master boredom and grow internal skills.

I’m Bored (Inside Activities)

Build a fort,  watch a movie, read a book, bake, draw, paint, write a story, dance, balloon volleyball, write a letter to a friend, lean origami, make bracelets, magic tricks, family tree, make playdough, marbles, puppet show, puzzles, paper mache, collage, legos, comic strips, make up a play.

I’m Bored (Outside Activities)

Build a cubby, play a tiggy, bike ride, fly a kite, basketball, obstacle course, hide and seek, water fight, Frisbee, skip rope, nature hunt, bubbles, collect bugs, picnic, hopscotch, football, mudpies, sandcastles, treasure maps, trampoline, egg and spoon race, play elastics, chalk draw, magic potions, park

One last note and reminder? Child experts say that sometimes being bored can be a really good thing. Boredom can lead to your child learning how to create fun and play. It ultimately increases their creativity in multiple ways.

Keep at it, we are cheering you on. You are doing a great job as a mindful, caring parent.

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