My two grandkids had been at my house for less than 18 hours when I first heard those words last summer.
Their parents were on a 10 day mission trip to the Dominican Republic, so we were having “Cousin’s Camp” that week, adding their cousin Marie who lives close by into most of our daily activities.
We have a toy room full of toys, 2.5 acres to explore, and a playhouse their Papaw built them.
Yet still the “I’m bored,” message left their lips sooner rather than later. And they quickly followed it with a request to turn on the television.
In 32 years of parenting and grandparenting, I’ve finally learned the secret of what to do when they utter those two words…
Wanna know what it is?
Do absolutely nothing.
It’s not your job to entertain them.
Yes…respond to their communication with a mix of compassion and inspiration. That day I said no to the request for television and I told them they had so many things to do, suggesting just a few options.
Within ten minutes of uttering I’m bored one was coloring a birthday card for Papaw and the other was playing house in the toyroom. They eventually moved outside to play in the sprinkler for hours and then played, imagined, and pretended the rest of the day. When we suggested they come in and watch a movie before bedtime, they resisted because they wanted to watch the beautiful sunset.
If you have kids at home, don’t be afraid of the “I’m bored” statement. Don’t get pulled into their frustration. Resist the urge to “fix it.” Say no to screens whenever you can. (Of course, there are some days when you’re at the end of your capacity and screens are your friend and that’s okay!)
Let. Them. Be. Bored.
Depending on how you respond, those two words can be the most powerful two words a child can say. Allowed to simmer in boredom for a little while will nearly always spark their creativity and launch their imagination. Sure they’ll make your life difficult while you’re holding out for what you know is best for them. But you’re the parent (or the grandparent) and it’s your job to lead them, not allow them to lead you with their emotions.
Stand firm. Be the adult. Lead well.
You’ve got this!
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