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HELP FOR THE FAMILY | PARENTING

What if My Child Is Bored?

Your child is stuck at home with nothing to do. “I’m bored!” he says. Before you turn on the TV or suggest that he play his favorite video game, here are a few things to consider.

Bored children—what some parents have found

  • The amount and type of entertainment may add to the problem. A father named Robert says: “For some kids, daily life seems boring when compared with watching TV or playing video games. Normal activities just don’t seem to be as exciting.”

    His wife, Barbara, agrees. She says: “Real life requires thinking and effort, and results often come at a slow pace. That’s boring to kids who spend a lot of their time watching TV or playing video games.”

  • Scrolling through social media can lead to negative comparisons. Looking at the activities of friends can make a young person’s own life seem dull. “It’s easy to think, ‘Everyone else is having fun, while I’m at home,’” says a girl named Beth.

    Furthermore, hours spent on social media can leave a person feeling empty—and still bored. “It might keep you occupied, but when you’re done you’ll have nothing to show for it,” says a young man named Chris.

  • Boredom can be an opportunity. A mother named Katherine says that being bored gives children a chance to think creatively. For example, she says: “A simple box becomes a time capsule, a car, a boat, or a spaceship. A blanket over furniture becomes a tent house.”

    For good reason, psychologist Sherry Turkle describes boredom as “your imagination calling you.” * Boredom, therefore, is not something to avoid at all costs. In fact, the book Disconnected says: “Boredom is to your brain what weight lifting is to your muscles.”

The bottom line: View your children’s boredom not as a problem but as an opportunity to help them get creative.

Bored children—what you can do

  • If circumstances permit, let your children play outdoors. Barbara, quoted earlier, says: “It’s amazing how sunshine and fresh air can lift the fog of boredom. Once our children started playing outdoors, their imaginations took over!”

    Bible principle: “There is an appointed time for everything, . . . a time to laugh [and] a time to skip about.”—Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4, footnote.

    To think about: What opportunities can I give my children to experience the outdoors more often? If playing outdoors is not an option, what creative indoor activities are available to them?

  • Help your children think of others. A mother named Lillian suggests: “Mow an older friend’s lawn or rake their leaves or cook something for them and stop by to say hello. Doing things for others brings real joy.”

    Bible principle: “The generous person will prosper, and whoever refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”—Proverbs 11:25.

    To think about: How can you help your children find joy in doing things for others?

  • Set the example. How you talk about your daily activities can affect your children. A mother named Sarah says: “If we make it sound as if our life is dull, we teach our children to be bored. But when we take a positive approach, we help our children to do the same.”

    Bible principle: “The one with a cheerful heart has a continual feast.”—Proverbs 15:15.

    To think about: How do my children hear me speak about routine activities? How do they see me handle periods of boredom?

Tip: Help your children to come up with a list of creative activities. “We have a suggestion box where everyone in the family can contribute ideas,” says a mother named Allison.

^ par. 7 From the book Reclaiming Conversation.