Working toward a balance of needs

"Dad, I'm Bored": Helping Children Appreciate Free Time
When kids have moved at the world's pace for a long time, they may initially complain and struggle when faced with free time. Older children may come to you and say, "I'm bored." Younger children might hang on your leg, whining. At that point, they may need some support from you in rediscovering the pleasures of free time. The following strategies can help you respond in ways that encourage children to develop their own solutions:

  • Identify what's happening. Reflect back to your child that it looks like he has some time he could do something with.
  • Be empathetic. Listen to the feelings of frustration that might come up as your child tries to figure out what to do.
  • Help children reflect on their mood. Ask older children to think about what they feel like doing and share with younger children what you observe about their energy: "You look like you're full of jumps." "You look like you you're ready to curl up on the couch and do something quiet."
  • Help your child think about what to do. Remind your child about the kinds of things you know she likes to do: "You like to roll in the grass with Spunky." Questions like, "What could you build with your blocks?" or "Where could you do some jumping?" can help start children's creative juices flowing.
  • Help your child get started, if necessary. If you help your child begin an activity, mention beforehand that you will help him get started, but that you are going to go back to what you were doing.
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