Does it drive you crazy when your kids say, “I’m bored”? Especially now that many of us are with our children 24/7, it may be helpful to examine three possible ways to respond to their cries of boredom.
The reply you choose depends on how you want to solve the boredom problem. It’s crucial to clarify your intention because you may be responding as if it’s your problem to solve, when in actuality you want your child to solve the problem. This miscommunication can lead to frustration and upset for both of you.
You can respond as a director, collaborator, or supporter. Review the three roles below and ask yourself, does my language match my intention of who should solve the boredom problem?
1. The Director
If you think it is your problem to solve, you become the director. The director’s sentences start with, “You could… “ or “Why don’t you help me … or “You have lots of things to play with. Why don’t you…”
2. The Collaborator
If you want to come up with ideas together, you become the collaborator. The collaborator’s sentence starts with, “Let’s discuss some ideas together and figure out what you will do.”
3. The Supporter
Now, if you want to teach your child how to be responsible for solving their own boredom challenge, you become the supporter. The supporter first responds with empathetic phrases to allow the child time to vent their stuck feelings of frustration. Once they get unstuck, they often can think of what to do. Here are examples of tentative supporter responses.
“You seem stuck.”
“I guess nothing sounds fun right now.”
After you initially respond with empathy, stop, and say nothing more as you listen. Repeat more empathetic phrases, if needed. Remember that as a supporter, you are teaching your child to solve their own boredom problem, so be careful to not slip into giving your child advice.
Your child may run off and start playing because of your precious gift of listening.
However, if they still seem stuck, you could say, “Would you like to talk about different ideas?”
Learning how to support your child’s problem-solving process is important for their healthy development. You can learn more about this process in Cynthia Klein’s book, Ally Parenting: A Non-Adversarial Approach to Transform Conflict Into Cooperation, which you can purchase on Amazon.
The Center for Children and Youth can help you establish healthy family routines, connect with other parents, plan activities at home, and receive critical assistance when you need it most. If you need support or guidance during this time, or are facing other challenges as a parent, we are here for you. Contact us at CenterforChildrenandYouth.org or call 415-359-2443.