The two words that haunt every parent during the school holidays: “I’m bored.”
While many rely on the help of an iPad, smartphone or TV to quell their boredom, a new study has said that every kid utters the dreaded ‘B’ word seven times a week on average — and there is a way to solve it without a pricey device.
“Tech is not the big bad wolf, and it’s so easy to throw your phone or iPad at the problem when faced with a moaning child,” UK clinical psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Kilbey told The Independent.
“Too much of this and kids can learn to rely on tech to fix their issues. But you do have alternatives.”
The study, conducted by UK toy retailer Argos, surveyed 1,000 parents, finding a quarter who admitted their children don’t use their imagination as much as they did growing up.
Of the parents surveyed, 17% say that their kid’s attention span is too short for some of the games they used to play as a child.
Now, parents are at their wit’s end trying to find what new distraction they’ll introduce to their kids today. Here’s what the experts recommend:
1. Create a boredom jar
Kilbey suggested creating a jar with pieces of paper in it filled with activities, for kids to draw out when they are bored.
“Whenever your kid says they’re bored, let them choose a piece of paper and do what it says,” she told The Independent.
2. Change the scenery
The phrase “a change of scenery is as good as a holiday” has some merit to it, and is great for helping kids burn off some extra energy.
Kilbey urges parents to take their kids outside.
“To the park, for a walk or just in the garden, or if it’s wet, get everyone to go upstairs and have an afternoon bath or make a fort out of duvets,” she said. “A different environment can transform a mood instantly.”
3. Schedule playtime
Putting aside some time for dedicated playtime is vital — not only as a boredom buster but also to develop certain skills.
The study found that 44% of parents love playing games with their children, with the child expert adding: “Any play you can do jointly with them will help boost their social and emotional development and their language and communication skills.”
“[Playtime] can help children hone their imagination skills, has been proven to develop social skills, and promotes independence,” she continued. “So my tip is to schedule time for playing.”
4. Pick play you enjoy too
It’s important to pick an activity you enjoy too, Kilbey explained.
“Play comes in so many forms, so pick something that resonates with you as that will be much easier for you to engage in,” she said.
5. Encourage them to play solo
As much fun as it is for children to play with their parents, siblings or friends, solo play is also important for their development and imagination.
“When kids are bored, they learn to self-occupy through engaging in play, which is an essential skill as we grow up,” Kilbey explained. “So encourage it and take some time for you,:
6. Challenge them
You are more alert when challenged — and kids are no different
According to Kilbey, little ones love being given a goal-orientated task as: “it gives them a real sense of achievement.”
7. It can be fun — not only educational play
Kilbey says it’s important to remember play doesn’t always have to be to learn something — reminding parents to let kids have fun when they’re playing.
“It’s the summer holidays,” she pointed out. “Kids don’t need to be learning for a few weeks, so use this downtime away from the timetables and history coursework as an opportunity to spend time together with no clear outcome in mind.”