“I’m Bored!”: 3 Things to Do or Say When Your Child Is Bored

By Elizabeth Ernest, LMFT, LCSW

We all know this common refrain from our children: “I’m bored!!” While we all feel bored sometimes, it can be especially annoying to hear this from our children when we are likely feeling overworked and overstimulated ourselves!

It’s important to know that children often get frustrated when they feel bored. If you’re noticing an uptick in tantrums or other frustrated behavior, it might be worth consider if your child simply wants more or something different to do! Here are a few ideas to do and say when your child tells you they are feeling bored.

Ideas to help your child when they feel bored:

  1. Make a list of things they can do when they feel bored.
  2. Practice  being bored – sit in silence doing nothing together for 2 minutes then slowly increase this to 5 minutes over time. This helps your child to practice sitting with the discomfort of doing nothing and being bored.
  3. Ask yourself how you can use this time as an opportunity for connection: find a game to play together, color together, turn on some music to dance together. 

Things you can say to your child when they are bored:

  1. I know it’s frustrating when you feel bored. You have a great opportunity to decide what you do with your time instead of an adult telling you what to do!
  2. We have been busy lately; I am glad you have this opportunity to relax. 
  3. I cannot wait to see what you do with this time! 

Feeling bored is a part of life, but it’s one that is rapidly diminishing with the increase in our society’s collective screen time. It’s important to help children learn how to sit with the discomfort of being bored, as this boredom can be a precursor to creativity, imagination, or a sense of calm. Helping your child navigate this issue will help them become more resilient in the longterm.

Is your child needing extra support? I am leading two upcoming programs for kids: a BFRB Support Course for Kids Ages 8-14 (a 4 week course for kids who struggle with skin picking, hair pulling, etc) and Play Therapy Summer Camp for Ages 5-7 (a 3 hour, week-long play therapy summer camp focusing on emotion regulation, peer relations, and many other social skills).

Elizabeth is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Elizabeth is dedicated to helping children and families build skills to overcome challenges and thrive. Elizabeth works with young children and youth struggling with anxiety-related disorders, OCD, behavior issues, adjustment issues, PTSD, and other trauma disorders. Elizabeth also works with couples, families, and co-parenting dynamics. To learn more about Elizabeth or to inquire about working with her, please click here.