For parents of school-aged children, the phrase “I’m bored” can crop up in the middle of summer. “Free time” is something many adults wish they had more of, and may even feel envious of their child’s open schedule. Trying to fill your child’s time may add stress or anxiety to your already busy schedule. Here are some ways to help you bridge your child’s boredom.
How To Bridge Your Child’s Boredom
- Increase responsibilities. Increasing your child’s responsibilities doesn’t mean giving them more chores, it means encouraging them to think of ways they could contribute to others around them. These could be additional chores, but engaging your child in a collaborative conversation about things around them they see needs to be taken care of could lead to other opportunities for increasing responsibility. Other possibilities could include a summer job, volunteer opportunities, and spending time helping older relatives, among many other positive activities.
- Learn something new. Help your child find learning opportunities in the community that fit within your family’s budget. Many organizations offer free classes and activities where your child can learn new skills, build friendships and positive relationships, or take part in something they enjoy. Look to your Parks and Recreation Department, the local library, or even summer school programming for ideas.
- Be social. Encourage your child to be social with peers in settings you are comfortable with when taking into account health, safety, and supervision preferences. Whether it is through sports, summer camp opportunities, or organizing playtime with peers, help your student come up with social activities that can build greater connection and creativity.
- Embrace boredom. According to Dr. Neel Burton (psychiatrist and philosopher who teaches in Oxford, England), “So what boredom does, effectively, is to open the shutters on some very uncomfortable thoughts and feelings, which we normally block out with a flurry of activity or with the opposite thoughts or feelings...boredom can be a stimulus for change, leading you to better ideas, higher ambitions, and greater opportunities.” Studies in 2014 and 2020 have shown that periods of boredom can increase resourcefulness and creativity in responses to different tasks. Also, being constantly engaged or entertained is exhausting, and our brains aren’t wired to be able to do this 24/7/365. Some boredom can be helpful; use it as a time to grow.
This blog article was contributed by Matthew Talmadge, Senior Therapist for Nexus-Gerard Community Mental Health.
Nexus Family Healing is a national nonprofit mental health organization that restores hope for thousands of children and families who come to us for outpatient/community mental health services, foster care and adoption, and residential treatment. For over 45 years, our network of agencies has used innovative, personalized approaches to heal trauma, break cycles of harm, and reshape futures. We believe every child is worth it — and every family matters. Learn more at nexusfamilyhealing.org