preschooler-boredomBut Mom ... I’m bored!

These words can be frustrating to hear—and children can say them more often when they are feeling cooped up in the wintertime. What do those words really mean, though, and how can parents effectively deal with a case of preschooler boredom?

Advice from

According to an article at, boredom to a young child often means that he or she doesn’t like what’s going on at the moment or wants some attention, so giving your child something to talk about can help. Recommended questions include:

  • What is your favorite book?
  • If you could buy anything you wanted at the grocery store, what would you buy?
  • Could you please count how many apples are in our refrigerator right now?

Other times, says child and adolescent psychologist Dr. Elizabeth MacKenzie, boredom may signal that your child hasn’t had enough practice with entertaining himself or herself. Watching television or playing video games are passive activities, and don’t teach children how to deal with boredom. Instead, encourage coloring or building with Legos. Set a timer to help your child productively spend time in ways that fight boredom.

Advice from

If your child is bored, you might feel like a bad parent, says You might even feel responsible for solving this issue, but this article backs up MacKenzie, saying that providing “technological entertainment or structured activities” is “actually counter-productive. Children need to encounter and engage with the raw stuff that life is made of: unstructured time.”

Seeds of creativity are born when children explore their inner and outer worlds, and this is how “they learn to engage with themselves and the world, to imagine and invent and create.” That’s also how children uncover their personal passions, the article points out, such as when Einstein studied bugs on the sidewalk for hours before becoming a world-renowned scientist.

“These calls from our heart are what lead us to those passions that make life meaningful,” so it’s hard knowing where boredom might lead your child. As a parent, you can’t “plant” imagination into your child, but you can welcome his or her creativity to provide guidance on the journey.

If your child expresses boredom, the article suggests that you stop what you’re doing and offer five minutes of time to chat and snuggle. Or perhaps more in-depth time together is needed. Once you know that your child has gotten the connection needed from you, let him or her know it’s important to figure out what to do by himself or herself, but you’re available for brainstorming.

Consider creating a boredom jar that contains slips of paper listing fun ideas, such as:

  • Build a fort of blankets and pillows
  • Wash the mirrors with a sponge
  • Learn a tongue twister
  • Create a treasure hunt with clues
  • Put old socks on your hands and pretend they are puppets

The article lists numerous other ideas for the jar. Once you’ve made your boredom jar, tell your child to pull out three slips of paper and then do the activity that’s most appealing.

Find even more ideas at, and if the complaining seems to be getting out of hand, find suggestions to deal with the situation at

Looking to enrich your child’s learning and life? Horizon Education Center provides affordable quality care, including educational and enrichment opportunities for children in the following Northeast Ohio locations.

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