December 21, 2022

Managing boredom during school holidays

“I’m bored”… Have you been hit with this little gem yet?  

How many days into the school holidays were you?  

It’s the phrase that every parent dreads.

What our children are actually saying is ‘the fabulous toys and games we have are no longer keeping us entertained or I want your attention’, but how do we respond?

Child development specialist refer to “boredom” as unstructured time and it is actually very important in your child’s development. Time management is a lifelong skill and like most skills our ability to learn how to master it starts in childhood.  

Studies show that boredom is simply your child saying I can’t find something to do, and it is our job as adults to guide them to resolve a solution for themselves. Our children today are so used to screen entertainment that they aren’t practiced at looking inside themselves for direction.

Another issue facing our children today is that their time is often so structured that they aren’t used to finding fun things to do with their “free time.” They need to discover things they like to do by themselves and that’s where you can help guide them.  

Unstructured time allows our children the opportunity to explore their worlds. Make sure you respond in a positive way is and avoid the temptation to solve the problem for them in an attempt to stop the nagging at all costs. Start with “That’s okay I’m sure you’ll think of something. Or it’s hard when you don’t know what to do”  

I’m Bored or Ideas jars are good to have on hand. Taking some time with your children before the holidays to come up with some ideas together so they can resolve their boredom independently when they find themselves lost for something to do is a good starting point. Giving younger children a time frame for their unstructured time may also be helpful. “You think of something to do now and when I have finished this job, we can play a game together.”  

Children learn from the adults in their lives. So giving them the opportunity to witness problem solving behaviours helps to teach them how to move from boredom to activity building resilience. “I’m a little bored today, I might read a book.”  

Our special little ones are no different, only for them we may need to give a little more assistance or be more creative in helping them resolve their boredom. Creating a visual board with activities on it that you know they enjoy maybe more helpful than a jar, but remember it is ok for them to wait too, they are a part of the family like everyone else.