It’s the time of the year where well-meaning parents buy into a less than stellar idea. Yes, it is the time of year when posts about boredom jars are nearly everywhere. Apparently, if a child is bored, we should punish that child by insisting they choose a chore from the boredom jar. Sadly, this does not solve the problem. Your child will still be bored. Your child may also feel put down by you. He may think you don’t care, won’t listen and empathize, or don’t want to spend time with him.
Look, I get it. I have three children and they do, at times, come to me and say “I’m bored”. It can be frustrating to hear this over and over again. The problem is that though children may think they are bored, they are more often asking for your attention. Chores won’t change that need. Using chores to urge children to leave you alone may cause an adversarial rift between you and the children.
What should we do when our children say “I’m bored”? My first suggestion is always give the child attention. Play a game, take a walk, or chat with each other. If you cannot help at that moment, then explain the situation. Make a few activity suggestions and let the child know when you will be able to spend time together. By explaining your need to complete a task, your children will learn to accept your boundaries. By coming back to spend time with the children when you say you will, they learn that you can be trusted and their needs will be met. You are teaching boundaries, respect, patience, and strengthening your bond all at one time.
Another strategy is using an Activity Jar. Sit together as a family when adding activity ideas to the jar so everyone has input. Potential Activity Jar ideas include creating an obstacle course in the backyard, reading a new book, writing a play, creating a board game, baking bread, and making a small sculpture out of clay.
An Adventure Jar, similar to an Activity Jar, is another helpful tool. You definitely want the children to help fill this jar with ideas, too. Add local adventure ideas like hiking, building a fort, planting a garden, and climbing a tree. Keep in mind the ability and maturity levels of your children when deciding which activities to include and how much supervision they need in each situation. Personally, I would like to play a game of pirates in the yard more than writing a blog post. You might find me using the adventure jar more often than my children do.
Children get bored. Children want attention. It is okay to work with our kids to find solutions that work for everyone. There is no need to punish by insisting chores be the consequence of voicing the feeling of boredom. Invest time and creativity in children and they will blossom. You might even have some fun, too. I know I will!