I have two young, energetic children, who have a tendency to complain of being bored. While I agree with research that illustrates boredom as a key motivating factor for children to be creative, I also want to offer a few suggestions for parents who are at their wits’ end with the “I’m bored” complaints. Here are a few tricks that I like to use when boredom comes creeping.
Scavenger hunt: This may be my all-time favorite game for children of all ages. It is simple to create and can be as long or short as you wish. The premise of this game is to send a child or children with a list of objects to go find and retrieve. Start by making a list of items commonly found in or around your home. For example, a red dishtowel or dirty sock, or it could be an item outside such as a brown leaf or smooth rock. Continue to add items to the list that require creativity and/or adventure, such as “buried treasure” which can be defined however you or your children choose. You can make this activity a timed event, a race, or a “must complete” before moving on. Have fun with this activity. You can spice it up by hiding items prior to their hunt
Story time: My kids love to ask me to tell stories of when I was in the Army. I have indulged them by telling the stories of my top-secret mission to save the President’s dog who was captured by the Chocolate Czar who makes coco illegally in the jungles of Columbia. While I certainly stretched the bounds of truth, I kept it age appropriate and full of fun and silly details. If making up a silly story is not your thing, include everyone in the creation of the story. For example, have one member of the family start a story by writing or just saying one or two sentences about an adventure they would like to take. The member of the family sitting next to them adds the next sentence or two, and then the next person adds their sentence or two, and before you know it an amazing adventure story is being told. A third option is to allow each member of the family to tell their favorite story or memory. Regardless of the option you choose, these stories will be a lot of fun for everyone.
Dance party: There is nothing like a few sweet dance moves to bust the boredom. That’s right, clear out the living room, kick off your shoes, and turn up those tunes for a dance party. It’s time to wiggle and giggle at each other as you perfect your dance moves. This is a great activity to change the mood and get the heart rate up. Perhaps you choose to dance to everyone’s favorite song, or maybe you work as a team to perform the perfect dance. Remember to keep the music age appropriate. For example, young children may find it more fun dancing to popular Disney songs rather than Mom or Dad’s favorite jam.
Cooking together: One of my favorite things to do when the kids are running out of ideas to keep them occupied is cooking or baking. Not only does it provide them with a hands-on activity, it also educates on the importance of meal preparation, measurement, how to avoid cross contamination, and provides opportunities for supervised chopping or cutting. It is extremely valuable for children to learn how to follow a recipe and understand how many steps are involved in making a meal. This family activity is packed full of learning and fun.
Source: David A. Weisenhorn, Ph.D., Senior Extension Specialist for Parenting and Child Development Education, University of Kentucky; College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.
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