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The “I’m Bored” Antidote

Happy friendsIt’s Saturday morning and it’s sleeting outside and the power is out inside. Could your children entertain themselves? I’d suggest not waiting until such a messy weekend to find out! Here are three ways to prepare—and to avoid the “I’m bored” whiners on more normal days as well!!

  • Creative Play Every Day. Researchers have found that the cognitive abilities of young children are improved as much or more by creative play—playing house, princess, firefighters, including with toy sets such as generic Legos that let you spin the stories—than by most academic activities. And, their creativity and innovation skills get a boost. More to the boredom question, they learn that they don’t need devices or adults to spin the story for them. Do your children have non-media downtime to do these things?
  • Play Games. If you don’t like to play games, it might be time for a big game of pretend—pretend that you do!! Ask your colleagues, relatives and Facebook friends for suggestions. Nothing beats classics like Sorry, Crazy Eights, Amazing Labyrinth, and Monopoly Junior. Forbidden Island is a fantastic newer cooperative game.

Declare a game night. Rule: Everyone gets to choose one game; everyone plays all games without moaning. Or, do a round-robin with two-person games so your children also learn to play with each other and not just with adults.

Bonus: Have your children design a game. That boosts creativity AND game-playing. They can work from scratch or create a variation on a favorite. See what happens.

  • “If you could think of something to do, what would you do?” All of us can be lazy at heart; give your children the privilege of thinking deeply about how they might fill their time. And don’t take no for an answer. Send them to the toy closet until they find at least two ideas. Remind them what needs cleaning in the house (that often sparks new ideas!) Let them plan dinner.

I remember one cold Minnesota afternoon when a work emergency landed in my lap while both of my preschoolers were home. I said, “Please, please, play nicely with each other for the next two hours. Then we can do something together.” And you know what? They did. Something about being baby butterflies who lived under a table. The antidote to boredom? Letting them experience the fascinating creativity within themselves!!!