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6/1/24 blog post

how to help kids deal with summer boredom

children bored on the couch

in this article

Once the thrill of the school year ending is over—and yes, even if children go right into summer camp—you’re bound to hear them complain about being bored.

You may understand the frustration of their boredom, but not quite know how to help them.

Should you coordinate activities? Or should you let them explore the uneasiness that comes with not having something to do?

boredom basics

Though it’s healthy for us to be active, our brains sometimes get used to non-stop stimulation. When the activity stops, we become bored.

Adults may wish they had more time to experience boredom, but kids may not be sure what to do with it.

Some kids may want a quick fix, but the “solution” only distracts them from experiencing boredom—and learning how to deal with it in healthy ways.

Boredom is actually a chance for children to build problem solving skills, practice entertaining themselves, and be creative—three aspects of good mental health.

Even though short-term boredom can be great for letting kids learn how to deal with downtime, but they shouldn’t have low activity or be bored for a long period of time. You may have to build in some activities into their day.

It may take a little effort on your part, but it’s totally doable.

what to do with boredom

While kids need structure during time away from school—regular bed, waking, and meal times should stay mostly intact—it’s a good time to give them unstructured time, too.

The child may need help coming up with things to do. Some kids may need help to get going.

  • Make a list together of ideas the child can do when they feel bored. Or make a list of things that you can only do during the summer and let them decide which activity they’re in the mood for.
  • Expect to hear a little frustration. The child may be used to teachers and other adults scheduling their whole lives, and they can feel a little thrown off if they have to come up with their own plans.
  • If the child complains about boredom, explain that the feeling may be due to having downtime.
  • Boredom can also be a result of the child’s brain wanting to be more active.
  • Encourage them to come up with an idea. You can also prompt the child to try something new. Maybe pull out a few supplies and encourage them to make something out of completely random items. If the weather is nice, try some messy play outside. Consider a traditional summer activity—resting in a hammock, taking a swim—and see if they’re interested.

reinforcing the value in boredom

Be sure to praise the child for facing boredom head on and finding something productive to try. Let them know their imagination and creative play is something you value. Even if they didn’t enjoy the activity, they tried to deal with something hard and that’s worth acknowledging.

By teaching the child about boredom and supporting them in coping with it, it can give the child the mental health boost they need and also give you a good chance to connect with the child.

free download to inspire ideas this summer

Now that you know  how to help kids process the feelings that come with a change in daily routine, help them embrace the downtime that comes with summer using our Idea Starters for Bored Kids (also available to download en español)

Print out the boredom busters that fit your family and put them in a jar or bowl! When the kids get bored, you can let them pick one idea from the jar! You can even add your own ideas to keep beating boredom all summer long!

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