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Why Boredom Brings Opportunity

Let Your Child Be Bored - It's An Opportunity!

Have a whiny child who complains that they are bored?

Let's looks at why, how you can curb that boredom and whether you should at all.

Girl Checking Her Phone

Most of us feel pressured to jump in and relieve our children when we perceive our children to be bored, or when we hear that dreaded whiny voice saying “I’m bored”, by providing activities or something for them to do to curb their boredom. We view boredom as a negative, something we need to solve.


This is in fact counter-productive. Free or independent play is so important for your child's development, and as parents, we should allow our children to be bored so that they are able to build their self-awareness.


Learning to manage our time is important and can be experimented with when a child learns the skill of problem-solving during their free time. Creative challenges help to engage a child’s imagination. This can stimulate interests and passions for life-long benefits. Boredom also motivates children to get things done and become self-reliant.


As Dr Laura Markham says, boredom "gives children the opportunity to explore their inner and outer worlds, which is how they discover who they are”. Boredom encourages creativity, imagination and invention. It challenges children to explore their own passions, which sitting in front of a screen to buy time doesn’t.


Free time and play also help a child to process emotions and experiences they've had. 


When children say they're bored, what can we do and how can we respond?

When children echo "I'm bored" and simply can’t find something to do, it’s usually because:

  • It’s a learnt phrase from friends.

  • They have been asked regularly “Are you bored?”

  • They're used to screen time filling that void that they haven’t had the chance to look inward at their problem-solving skills to find a better solution for how to spend that time. The addiction of screen time, due to the effect it has on the brain, prohibits the creative juices from flowing.

  • Their time is always so structured for them that they haven’t practiced finding fun things to do on their own in their free time. Filling a child’s day with many activities, classes or sports may be tempting, however, they also need free time to play (as much as all those extra murals may be beneficial for their development as well).

  • They are looking to play with someone, don’t have someone to play with and haven’t yet figured out what to do or how to entertain themselves.

  • They need to connect to the key people in their lives.

  • They haven’t been included in everyday activities or chores around the house.

The best response to "I'm bored," is:

“That’s great! Bored is that feeling you get just before you create or explore or discover something! I can't wait to see what plans you’re going to come up with!”


Step 1: Limit screen time. When children get used to the limits on screen time and are creative at solving their own problems in terms of how to spend their free time, it will also limit the number of times you hear them say “I’m bored!”. Studies show that children regularly exposed to screen time are more likely to feel bored and it can take several weeks to months for them to “detox”, reboot, and learn to enjoy finding passionate and creative activities during independent play. 


Step 2: Reconnect with your child. Spend 5-10 minutes honing in on your child and filling their cup. If you find that your child is still demanding of your time after spending this time connecting with them, they may have an unmet need, and one has to dig a little deeper to meet their need. Perhaps they need more time connecting deeply with you? Perhaps they need to feel seen? If you need to get back to something you are doing, could you involve them in that? 


Step 3: Ensure that simple, everyday items are readily available for your child to play with which will create a stimulating environment for their imaginations to run wild! 


Step 4: Your child may surprise you with some ideas of their own for what they would like to do with their time if given the opportunity to solve their own problem. If not, ask a question. “I wonder what you could build? What could you use? A box? That sounds like a creative idea. I’m so excited to see what you come up with!”


Step 5: Place books on a table that you know will interest your child. Children are naturally drawn to books and if there are no underlying challenges, they love to read! A child will not be bored when there is an interesting book to be read.


Step 6: Put some children’s music on. Children love to sing and dance and will keep themselves entertained with some background children’s music.

What if your child needs to keep themselves busy (and quiet!) while you are busy with a younger child? Here are some ideas to keep them busy:


1. Place a shallow tub of water or sand with some scoops, spoons, funnels, cups etc. This will keep them entertained for a while!

2. Give your child an audiobook or a podcast to listen to. This stimulates the imagination. Some great growth mindset podcasts for kids are The Big and Wow in the World.


3. In circumstances where you really can’t watch or supervise your child, placing them at the babysitter (aka screen time) for a limited period of time with slow-paced screen changes won’t be the end of the world! Ensure that once you are done, that you return and switch the screen off rather than taking advantage of your free time!

How does The Building Blocks Program help children practice curbing their boredom?

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In the program, during the focused playtime with children, they learn an array of skills such as building gross and fine motor skills, age-appropriate social skills and how to share through turn-taking games with other people and children, being physically active through movement games which build attention spans and releases endorphins necessary for learning, amongst many other skills.

Water Games

The Building Blocks Program includes hundreds of games and activities of wonderful things you can do with your child designed to bring you closer to your child, connecting and deepening the relationship so that their cup is full and they are able to play independently during their free time making them much more cooperative and build qualities such as curiosity, perseverance, confidence, creativity, innovation, playfulness, and self-esteem. For more information on the program, click here.

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