Skip to main content

Boredom Busters! How to Keep From Hearing Those Dreaded Words

The old adage "Only boring people are bored," may have kept you as a child from squawking too much as a kid. But much to mom's chagrin, being bored isn't really a personality flaw or a social sin, it's actually pretty common especially for children. And even with every modern convenience at their fingertips it seems our kids can readily state "I'm Bored!" without any provocation!

Since summertime is definitely upon us, we wanted to look behind the boredom a bit, what causes it. And moreover, how can we as moms and dads high five our way through the summer while keeping our kids active and engaged.

What causes boredom in the mind of a child? We asked our own pediatrician Dr. Kathryn Skuza what causes the brain of a child to trigger those words. "The physiological causes of boredom are similar in both children and adults. It's all about the "reward system" in our brain controlled by the neurotransmitter dopamine. According to Professor Justin James Kennedy, 'boredom serves to find excitement from reaching a goal and getting that dopamine reward.'" said Dr. Skuza.

Interestingly enough with all of those electronic devices at the ready they could actually be causing the problem to become worse. A child usually becomes bored when they are overstimulated. And here we thought by providing them almost limitless options we were solving the problem! "Boredom in childhood is different than boredom in adulthood – in a child, boredom can be a positive situation. Given proper parental direction, it can unleash creativity, discovery, & great ideas!"

On the other side of that coin, boredom can rear up when they have too much structured time. So if you are the type of parent with a calendar on the side of the fridge and who has every Summer day mapped out realize: "Pre-planned activities filling up a child's weekly schedule serve to occupy a child and keep her from getting bored … or out of trouble. When faced with a "hole in the schedule," she may feel not only bored but also lost."

Often our response to the exclamation of boredom from our progeny can mean we have a few options. Dr. Skuza weighs in, "As boredom in childhood can be GOOD, a parent should not panic. A PARENT JUST NEEDS TO BE PREPARED. The idea is to do NOTHING to engage the child. The parent needs to guide the bored child into a self-directed pursuit."

Here are some solutions from Dr. Skuza.

Ideas For Parents:

  • LIMIT ELECTRONIC DEVICE USE to only 30 minutes to 2 hours per day.
  • Have a BOREDOM BOX prepared - with vetted ideas [see below] for "such a time as this."
  • Remind your child that if there are no interesting ideas in the box, there are always CHORES!
  • With a poker face, make sure that your child understands that YOU LOVE BORED² – that you find nothing wrong with it. Wait for him to find something to do.

Ideas For Children To Keep In Their Boredom Box:

  • Name a pet dragon.
  • Time for that box of paper & coloring pencils/crayons.
  • Build a house for little characters using paper/ cardboard & glue.
  • Keep a hacky sack flying high.
  • Perfect your yo-yo game.
  • Jump rope.
  • Throw a bouncing ball against a wall & catch it every time.
  • Practice juggling.
  • Practice magic tricks.
  • Go for a bicycle ride [if it's safe].
  • Start beading projects [for older children].
  • Build an indoor fort with couches, chairs & bed sheets/ beach towels.
  • Plan a scavenger hunt.
  • Devise a board game.
  • Make a paper airplane that really flies.
  • Imagine a zoo and the animals you would keep in it.
  • Create another world & draw the map that goes with it.
  • Practice throwing light objects into a box or other container.
  • Braid a friendship bracelet.
  • Braid a lanyard chain for someone.
  • Think of places to go for the next vacation – plan the itinerary [use a map].
  • Invent a story & using old magazines or circulars, cut out characters for the story.

The best laid plans can often meet in failure, and know that yes while we can provide a myriad of suggestions you as their parent know your child. But these are just that, suggestions, and they are meant to help you get a bit ahead of your child's needs this summer so those dog days don't seem quite so boring!