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Activities for Bored Children

Updated on January 9, 2015

Ode to the Stressed Out Mom

Dear Stressed Out Parent,

I sympathize. I hear your pleas for a moments peace. It just doesn't happen too often does it? Are you tired of having children following you around with that "bored" look on their face? Are you annoyed by buying the kids a new toy, only to have them fighting with each other over who gets the box? Have you lost your marbles?

Me too! I have learned a lot about children in the past year alone. Why in the past year? Well, I've had the opportunity to not just raise my own children, both 3 and 5 years old, but to help in raising my husband's brother, who is 11. I've seen many sides of boredom, and many cries for help from me, their expected Entertainment Center. HOWEVER, I have refused to fall into this trap. Because, you see, once you begin directing activities for them to do, they become reliant on you for this fun. I'm not saying it is not okay to do things with your children every once in a while. I'm just saying that promoting independence and creative thinking are far worth it in the long run.

Read on for more ideas!


The Mom Who Still Puts Herself In a Time Out (at least twice a day)

Ways to "teach" a child independence

I honestly think that a child has to be encouraged to be independent from the time they are infants. Now, I am not saying that we abandon our children and not care for them appropriately. I, like many other parents, are one of those who freak out on the first day of school because I don't want to leave them! Honestly, they adjust more than I do! That being said, it is important to support a healthy separation from you, and help them create ways to entertain themselves and learn in the process.

Ideas to use for our bored children:

  • I often find myself setting aside "extra" toys from birthday parties and holidays so that when boredom strikes, I can get these toys out to spark some activity. Honestly, they just get TOO MUCH at parties and holidays.....why not sneak some off?
  • Create a box (or use a large tub with a lid) that contains toys ONLY for rainy days/boredom days. This is a good place to put those "un-used" toys and old toys; they become "new" toys all over again!
  • Have an Art Basket, with various art supplies for them to independently create masterpieces. This should contain everything from paint to playdough. Freaked out about the paint? Use water paints or Paint By Numbers. Kids need to have experiences with this. Both young and old alike can enjoy art activities.
  • Get old boxes and let them go to town. They can decorate them, make forts, create houses for their action figures (or Barbies), etc.
  • Make an easy scavenger hunt for them: Find 5 rocks, Find 10 funny looking sticks, etc. For older kids who live with younger ones, they can be the ones to CREATE the scavenger hunt.

If you can take a car ride:

  • Head to the local library. Although you will be technically "entertaining" them by taking them here, they can ultimately go on their own in the book sections, choosing favorite books to read and look at.
  • Playgrounds are great energy users! Take bikes and balls and let them figure the rest out themselves! Older kids are more resistant to playgrounds, but you may be able to find a playground with basketball hoops or climbing equipment that can be more suitable for the older child.
  • Local parks and lakes are great science adventures. The parent has to do very little in these situations. Children can explore bugs and dirt. They can find various animals, like birds and frogs. Streams contain tadpoles and minnows. The entertainment is endless!


When All Else Fails.....

Okay, we all know that we can rely on the usual television and video games, but I find that to be an easy way out. There is nothing more exciting than seeing your young children create a "Pirate Hunt for Treasure" in your backyard!

When the above strategies are exhausted, and when I am asked, "So, what are WE going to do today?" I simply say, "Well, you know what YOU can do!" Or I say, "It's an Entertain Yourself Day!" And leave it at that. There is NO harm in just letting kids figure it out themselves! It is not worth stressing yourself out being the MAIN source of entertainment all of the time.

The best way for them to learn is for them to be bored in the first place!


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    • vandynegl profile image

      vandynegl 3 years ago from Ohio Valley

      Hi Deborah-Diane,

      I hope so! We've had a lot of snow days where we live and the kids get really bored! Thanks for reading!!

    • Deborah-Diane profile image

      Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California

      Your suggestions for dealing with bored children will bring peace of mind to lots of women! I'm happy to share this with others.

    • vandynegl profile image

      vandynegl 4 years ago from Ohio Valley

      Hi moonlake!

      Interesting, because we now live in the country and have seen quite a few snakes! My 6 year old comes to my hubby and says, "Daddy, there is a snake by the tree and it is sticking it's head up!" We naturally think it is some gigantic thing, and my hubby goes outside with his shotgun.....when it turns out to be a 6 inch garter snake! Oh well! Still entertaining!

      And yes, I can see how the "I can find something for you to do" would move them in the opposite direction!

      Thanks for reading!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      I always told our kids, if your bored I can sure find something for you to do. They instantly get busy with their own things. They were country kids and they loved setting traps for snakes. I often said go catch a few snakes and see if you find something different. (They were all safe snakes).

      Voted up

    • vandynegl profile image

      vandynegl 4 years ago from Ohio Valley

      Awesome Theater girl! I love that idea and will definitely be using it this summer! The kids' bathtub is gross anyway, so a little shaving cream wont hurt! Thank you for sharing this!

    • Theater girl profile image

      Jennifer 4 years ago from New Jersey

      My mom used to say (no lie) "I am not the entertainment committee!" And I use this now. I love this article. Many of the things I do already. Here is another: Get in a plastic pool with bathing suits on and let the kids go to town with some shaving cream. Hose them down when they are done. They smell good and had some fun. Also works well in the bathtub on a rainy day (if you don't mind a little bathroom mess)! My kids are 6 and 8. Have a great day and thanks for this!

    • vandynegl profile image

      vandynegl 4 years ago from Ohio Valley

      Hi Beth100, We are also in the country and my two young ones are "exploring" as I type this. We have a stream that runs through the property which adds to the fun. I can definitely see a difference in children who were raised to "get creative" with their surroundings versus those who were raised with people constantly entertaining them. My husband's 11 year old brother was raised this way and it can be a struggle for him now, since I don't "entertain" anyone :)

    • vandynegl profile image

      vandynegl 4 years ago from Ohio Valley

      Hi Careermommy, I like the craft ideas and really need to get to a craft store so I can stock up! My oldest has created picture frame crafts and painted magnet crafts before and he loved them! I didn't have to help at all!

    • vandynegl profile image

      vandynegl 4 years ago from Ohio Valley

      Hi LongTimeMother! I completely forgot about this! My kids STILL do this with sheets and blankets....sometimes these "caves" will stay up for days! Thank you for posting this!

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 4 years ago from Canada

      Oh, I so agree with you!!! There is nothing better than boredom to get the creative juices running and the imagination. Living in the country with my five, they were let loose outside. They still, to this day, talk about the fun they had in the forest, around the pond, with the animals and their hide/seek games up in the trees. We never did have TV - only movies on Friday nights. To be honest, with their ability to create and imagine, there is never a day of boredom. They know that they need to create their own fun and, as a result, I get left alone quite often. My worries -- geeze, it's awefully quiet out there......

    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

      When mine were little, I would occasionally construct a cubby house out of a sheet or blanket thrown over sturdy chairs. They would spend all day carting pillows and rugs and soft toys etc in and out. :)

    • Careermommy profile image

      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      vandynegl, I also let my kids use play dough, flash cards and other crafts like making hats and glasses. These seem to keep them entertained for a while too. Thanks for sharing your ideas.