Tag Archive for: boredom

By Natasha Goodge, MSW, LSW – February 1, 2024

“I’m bored,” 5-year old Julian often says.  

As a mother, social worker, and let’s face it, a people pleaser, my initial reaction to this and other complaints is to try to fix them. I offer suggestions, provide distractions, or simply hand over my smart phone.  

For some children and adults, boredom can feel uncomfortable and result in feeling anxious. Boredom is disengagement, and disengagement from your environment feels vulnerable and dysregulating. Chronic boredom can even lead to depression and anxiety.  

Chronic boredom, however, is very different from the initial, superficial level of boredom experienced when standing in line or waiting for the next episode of our new favorite show. These days, this initial dip into monotony is easily avoided by checking our email or with a quick scroll through our favorite social media pages. This avoidance of boredom, however, may mean a loss of opportunity for connection, innovation, and creativity. 

Boredom can make children feel restless and frustrated, but it can also lead to the discovery of new interests and meaningful activities. When children engage in play that is undirected and unmanufactured, the creative part of their brain is stimulated. They can develop creative skills that stay with them for life.

For example, a child may start playing keys on the piano and then picking out a tune, which may spark an interest in taking piano lessons. They may observe grandma working on a knitted hat and ask to learn to knit. Younger children may search the house for sheets and blankets to build a fort to play in.  

Being bored can be especially good for children by helping them develop planning strategies, problem-solving skills, flexibility, and creativity. It also helps kids build tolerance for the inevitable, not-so-fun experiences, such as long car rides and adult dinner conversations. Being bored together offers opportunities for your child to observe their surroundings more closely, practice mindfulness, self-reflect, or to develop and practice interpersonal communication skills and share about themselves. Once, in an especially long line for pizza, my son explained in detail his complicated feelings about his classmates.  

“You can’t teach creativity,” writes psychologist Peter Gray, “All you can do is let it blossom.”  Now when my son tells me he is bored, I say, “That’s great honey!”

Summer fun

By Dena Embrey, LCSW, Courier & Press, June 7, 2016 –

Summer break is here, and families often look forward to sleeping in and not rushing through the morning routine. Maybe you have a vacation planned, or your child is looking forward to summer camp.

For families with school-aged children, making the transition from the highly structured routine of the school year to the relaxed feel of summer can be difficult. Before too long you start to hear those dreaded words, “I’m bored,” or “There’s nothing to do.” Soon siblings start fighting and everyone’s stress levels go up.

Planning ahead and keeping a schedule can help you avoid this being your summer reality. A schedule brings order to your days, giving your child needed structure and reducing anxiety.

It’s good to have set times for waking up, meals, chores and preferred activities. Display your daily schedule for the whole family to see and review together. Include your children in the process, letting them have some say in what activities are included.

As a parent, you have to be prepared for unexpected changes and those days when things just don’t go as planned. Rainy days, illnesses or canceled play dates will inevitably get in the way. Having a list of fun ways to engage your children as a backup plan could be a life saver.

Here are some activities you may want to include on your list:

1. Go outside to play and explore. You can keep it as simple as taking a bike ride, blowing bubbles, visiting a playground, watering the garden or taking a walk around the neighborhood.

2. Go on a hike at a nearby park.

3. Plan an outdoor scavenger hunt and create a scrapbook of everything you find.

4. Visit a nature preserve and get a guided tour.

5. Set up a tent in your backyard and camp out with a bonfire, s’mores and stargazing.

6. Go old school and teach your kids some of your favorite childhood games. Hide and seek, monkey in the middle and tag are always good go-to games.

7. Look through old photos and compare your child’s baby pictures and your own or create a family tree together.

8. Spend some time in the kitchen making old family recipes.

9. Work a puzzle or build a fort out of blankets and cushions.

10. Get creative with your kids by busting out the play dough (or make your own).

11. Use sidewalk chalk to make an outdoor mural.

12. Create art using only materials found in your recycling.

13. Write and illustrate a story together, or turn your favorite book into a play, acting it out with costumes and all.

14. Have a family talent show or karaoke party.

15. Do something nice for someone else — visit a nursing home or elderly person and read to them. Plan and prepare a meal for a family who is going through a difficult              time, pick up trash at a local park or volunteer at an animal shelter.

16. Go through old clothes and toys and donate items no longer needed. Take lemonade and cookies to your local fire station.

Following a schedule during the summer teaches children time management, responsibility and organization, all healthy life skills. How loose or rigid your schedule needs to be will depend on your family’s needs. Finding the right balance of structure and relaxation will help create the peaceful and fun summer your family deserves.