Sometimes, especially with younger children, cries of boredom are really calls for companionship and attention—their friends may be away on vacation and without the structure of school they may find it difficult to keep occupied during long summer days. Prolonged intervals where the kids have nothing to do can be stressful for parents. When bored, children often become whiny, cranky and demanding.
Here are 5 easy tips to help parents’ combat summer boredom and help kids develop the internal resources that are important for developing creative, resource and time management skills:
1. Put a weekly calendar together so as not to overwhelm yourself with planning entertainment for an entire summer, just take it one week at a time—day trips, arts and craft activities, play-dates, reading time, nature hikes, picnics, bike rides, a trip to the movie theatre etc. This way kids will have something to look forward to during down time. A calendar also helps with getting kids prepared for what comes next.
2. Ask: “If you could do anything, what would you like to do?” Try and encourage your children to generate their own ideas for activities—they are more apt to have fun when they thought it up on their own! Reinforcing that children use their imaginations will also help them develop a sense of resourcefulness and get them in the habit of making their own choices about how they will spend their time.
3. Keep an “art box” handy full of supplies: scissors, fabric, felt, glue, paints and brushes, stickers, paper, markers, canvass, needle and thread, beads, yarn, picture magazines etc. Rummaging through a box of art supplies can ignite the imagination and occupy children for long periods of time. They could even begin an entrepreneurial enterprise and sell their wares at the end of the summer.
4. Inspire them to play with water. Water is very calming and soothing for children and they can while away many hours playing and keeping cool. Get them to wash the car, hose off the deck, or run through a sprinkler. Take them to a community splash pad or pool, make musical instruments by filling different shaped glasses with varying amounts of water; fill a kiddie pool and bathe the dog, even wash the dishes and blow bubbles with the detergent!
5. For children too young to get a summer job and too old to be entertained by a craft box or a water “slip N slide”, invite them to volunteer at the local hospital or animal shelter or start their own business by cutting the neighbour’s lawn or washing windows. These types of endeavours help fight summer boredom and also instil qualities like compassion, kindness and a sense of work ethic in children.