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How can I keep my kids from getting bored?

Michele Borba
Psychology

Here are a few solo ideas of activities that will keep your kids engaged. The secret is to tailor the ideas to your child’s attention span, abilities, and age.

Get a library card. The greatest solo activity for a kid is a good book. Enroll your kid in the summer library program. Get her a magazine subscription. Check out books on tape to listen to in the car or download a classic onto your tween’s iPod.

Start a hobby. Summer is a good time to start a child on a hobby. The right match with the right kid often turns into a lifelong love. The trick is to find one that supports your child’s interests and ability -- and is one that he can do alone. You may have to teach him how to get started or enroll him with a tutor or class, but so be it!

Embrace the great outdoors. While that sounds simple enough, sometimes kids need a push to get out the door. 

  • Keep a basket filled with fun things that keep kids entertained (bubble blowers, rubber balls, sidewalk chalk, scooters, shovels and pails).
  • Set up a basketball net.
  • Give your kid a bag and tell him to go collect something.
  • Give her a kite building kit.
  • Fill a can with water and tell your little kids to paint a fence.

Think boxes … boxes … boxes. The Smithsonian voted the cardboard box as the absolute best toy ever. Stock up on them -- and in every size from small jewelry boxes to refrigerator crates. They’re not only free, but also can provide hours of imaginative play.

Teach unplugged games. I love Bobbi Conner’s great book, Unplugged Play: No Batteries. No Plugs. It’s chock full of fabulous outdoor ideas. It also has dozens of great childhood games like Mother May I, Duck, Duck, Goose, Round Robin that you can teach your child. And while you’re at it, why not marbles, jacks, and hula hoops?

Create Boredom Boxes. Start looking around your house for recyclable items and put them into shoeboxes. Save things like tin foil scraps, paper towel tubes, bubble wrap, and popsicle sticks. Put a few objects that might go together and the box becomes an instant “mini entertainment center.” When your child says, “I’m bored," just point to a box. 

The absolute last thing I’m suggesting you do is all this stuff. But why not just trying one new thing this summer? And then if one of your kids just dares to say, “I’m bored!” tell them you have the perfect solution. It’s a list of household chores that you have posted on the fridge. I bet you anything he’ll find something to do.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.