Got Bored Kids? Great!


       Have you ever heard the repetitive mantra of, “I’m BORED!” (slight whine implied) at your house? Are you diligently preparing right now for a summer of possible boredom with camps, classes, and activities for your kids? Does their boredom become your problem? Do you fear their boredom?

            Rather than fearing it or trying to eliminate it, celebrate boredom with your child. Why? Because if they are bored, it means that they are not among the 168 million children worldwide involved in child labor (2013). If they are bored, it means they have the opportunity to find something interesting to do. If they are bored it means they have the gift of free time to explore. If they are bored, they have a chance to think and ponder new thoughts and ideas without interruption. I would LOVE to be bored more often!


  • Explain to them that the very concept of “boredom” is unique to our culture. In other places around the world, there is not even a word in some languages for boredom.
  • Help them understand that boredom happens immediately before they find something new and interesting to do, plan, imagine, or create. It is supposed to be a temporary feeling before they transition to a new activity.
  • Talk about “some kids” who are bored all the time. Because these kids usually have played lots of video games and/or watched lots of TV/screens, they are no longer able to enjoy real life like they should. The more they disconnect from people, nature, and the real world, the more they are bored when they are off their screens.
  • Explain your role as “parent” rather than “plaything/entertainer.” Their boredom is their problem to solve. But you can help get them started:
  1. Get your kids excited about the possibility of boredom using the information above.
  2. Brainstorm activities that they may want to try when they start to feel bored.
  3. Plan lots of free time at home and plan for outside time with no agenda.
  4. Rehearse the confidence and excitement in your voice when you will respond to their boredom complaints with, “That’s so cool that you are bored! I wonder what you will do.”
  5. Minimize the quantity of toys that your kids have access to. Sometimes it’s just too overwhelming. Choose a few toys for each week and have the rest be stored or “off limits.” Let the kids decide at the beginning of each week what toys will be featured that week.
  6. Explain to your kids that if they cannot solve their own boredom problem, you always have your household chores that they can help with. PLEASE do not create this as a punishment. Helping Mom is a very noble way to spend time. It allows kids to practice cleaning/organizing skills and allows them a chance to serve someone else which brings joy and purpose.
  7. IF they are truly struggling in this area, consider the amount of screen time they have or the number of activities they do. Perhaps the most loving thing that you can do is stop ALL screen time or reduce activities until they can experience joy in real life. This is not a punishment either. It’s you admitting to your child that, “Mom and Dad have made a mistake. We allowed you to have too much screen time and now you no longer are able to find joy with people and things in the real world.” OR “Mom and Dad have made a mistake. We scheduled too many activities for you and played with you so much that now you don’t know how to function without us and those activities.”
  8. Project your confidence in them finding things to do or think about with their free time. Release your need to solve this problem for them. Tell them, “It’s OK. You’ve got this. You’re a unique and amazing kid and I am so excited to see what you will do!”
  9. Rather than breaking down and thinking of things FOR them, you can tell them about other kids and what they did. This allows the child the freedom to hear about other kids’ boredom without you trying to solve theirs. “I heard about this one boy who sat for an hour under a tree just imagining the kind of man he might become.””I heard about a boy who designed a whole secret room in a hidden place in the attic.” “I heard about this other boy who went out in the yard and dug a hole for two hours straight. It was so big that he could stand in it.” “Another brother and sister collected all the sticks in their yard and made a wigwam.” “Another kid I heard about cleaned his mom’s car so thoroughly that she surprised him with $10.”
  10. Help your kids practice being “body bored.” This happens lots of times in life when someone is waiting in line, waiting for an appointment, waiting for an activity to start, sitting through a “boring” presentation…Tell them that their brains NEVER have to be bored. They can make up a story, imagine a character with a name and specific traits, make lists of favorite places, lists of words that start with “J,” lists of things they are thankful for, lists of things they love, bucket lists, remember when they were really little. Actually practice this activity  by sitting with them and being very still, but talking about what is happening in their mind and yours.


I remember a mom of teens who once commented to me, “I keep my kids REALLY busy with activities so that they won’t have time to get in trouble.” Seriously? THAT’S how we keep our kids out of trouble? Don’t buy into the cultural lie that “Busy is Better.” Too many activities brings stress to the entire family, not just the kids involved. It places the focus on doing rather than being.  Are you raising an athlete/student or are you raising a man/woman? If you are raising a man or a woman, they will need lots of opportunities to explore their external and internal worlds in freedom and lots of time to build real relationships with fellow human beings.

Please give your kids the time and freedom to simply “be”…even if it means that sometimes they are bored.


Got Bored Kids? Great!


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