Help Me Grow | United Way of Utah County

Fighting Boredom: 20 Boredom-Busters to Jumpstart Your Child’s Imagination

The famous words of my childhood summer days were, “I’m bored.” Often my mom would reply, “Read a book.” Quickly I would snark, “No, I don’t want to.” The times in children’s lives that are most unstructured, such as during a break from school, are the times we hear the word “bored” the most.

About a month ago, I wrote a blog post on “Alternatives to TV Time.” There I outlined the importance of self-directed independent play in child development. Self-directed play helps children develop the neural pathways needed to be a good listener and learner. Imagination is key in this process.

I would like to add to those alternatives to TV time by sharing ideas my family has used to combat boredom in our home. Hopefully, this list will help jumpstart your children’s imaginations.

  1. Create service cards: be prepared to do the service listed
  2. Reading marathon: everyone gathers at a set time and reads
  3. Read a chapter book as a family, taking turns to each read and discuss what you’re learning
  4. Finish this sentence: “If I had more time, I would…”
  5. Grow a garden or a house plant
  6. Send a text message to someone in your contacts you haven’t spoken to in a while (Or let your children Facetime with a friend or family member they haven’t seen in a while)
  7. Spring Cleaning, teach your kids how to clean and make it fun!
  8. Wash your neighbor’s cars
  9. Research your ancestors
  10. Make a children’s book that compiles stories of your grandparent’s lives
  11. Make a gratitude book or jar
  12. Create a sellable craft
  13. Offer to mow your neighbors’ yard (or make it your secret service)
  14. Have the kids create their own scavenger hunt and take turns finding the items (these could be items out of place and you can create a game of cleanup out of it)
  15. Put together a puzzle
  16. Bake a treat out of the ingredients you have in your kitchen.
  17. Play, “Iron Chief” using playdough, creating fun dishes like spaghetti and pizza. Have a judge pick the best dish!
  18. Campout in the backyard
  19. Dance challenge- someone picks a song and dances for 30 seconds before pointing to someone else, who then dances to their own song in reply. Have your family vote on the best dancer.
  20. Rock painting

Parents can easily enjoy these activities along with their children of all ages. Learning and laughing together can solidify family bonds and create lasting memories.

Sometimes a child’s plea of boredom is a sign they need your attention. Parents, and especially working parents, can feel strained in attempting to meet both their child’s needs and other requirements, such as work. Stop and give them 5 minutes of your undivided attention. According to Handling Boredom: Why It’s Good for Your Child, after those 5 minutes, “If he doesn’t pull away from you, and you need to get back to work after a few minutes of fully connecting, consider that maybe he needs a little more time with you. Most of the time when children are whiny and unable to focus, it’s because they need more deep connection time with us. Offer to involve them in what you’re doing, or take a break from your work to do something together.” Allow yourself to be connected with your children, but also make some space for their own creativity and autonomy to shine.

While parenting can feel exhausting, especially during those long summer-like days, take heart in remembering you are not alone. Ideas and resources are available to you. We’re in this together! Let’s help children jumpstart their imaginations today!

Check out this website for additional activities to combat boredom.

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