You are here

When Your Child Says "I'm Bored!"

During school vacations, Melanie Bailey of Fort Smith, AR, hears the words "I'm bored" from her 6-year-old, Meghan, practically every day. "I think it's because there's never a dull moment in school, but at home, she's not as busy," says Melanie.

Even with an ample stash of toys, books, DVDs, and art supplies, "I'm bored" is a common kid complaint. Since adults tend to shepherd children this age from one activity to the next, it's tough for kids to figure out how to fill their free time. Sometimes "I'm bored" means something else. "She may be trying to say she wants you to help her pick an activity or play with her," says Ann Douglas, author of The Mother of All Parenting Books. To stop the complaining:

Figure out if she just wants your company. You'll know if she rejects your ideas for activities she'd do alone. So invite her to chat with you while you pay bills or make dinner.

Suggest something unusual. "Telling Meghan to read a story to our cat usually beats her boredom," says Bailey. Try asking your child to make up a song about three grasshoppers or build a castle out of purple things in the house.

Let her be bored. Don't rescue her as soon as she complains. Tell her you'll help her in 15 minutes. By then, she may find a way to keep herself busy.