Classic Responses to “I’m Bored!” — from a Different Perspective

You've probably said these phrases, or heard them yourself as a kid. Find out how they can spark play.

Parker Barry

“I’m bored.”

You’re going to hear it sooner or later from your kids, that phrase that can elicit a range of emotions in parents. Boredom’s not such a bad thing, but your kids might not see it that way. You’ll be happy to know that some classic responses to this kid complaint — ones you might have even heard as a kid — can actually help spark kid-directed, open-ended play.

  • “Go clean your room.” On the surface, this classic response sounds like a chore and not much more. But it also gives kids the opportunity to discover something to play with. Chances are they’ll find something fun to do after a few minutes of going through their stuff.
  • “Go outside.” Here’s another classic that opens up lots of possibilities. Kids might discover some playmates outside, find something fun to explore in nature, or simply get lost in their thoughts. Maybe they’ll stumble upon some interesting bugs and observe them for a while, or lie on the ground and stare up at the cloud, creating fantastic stories.
  • “What do you want to do?” Sometimes — especially if they’re used to adults directing most of their time — kids may not feel empowered to decide how they want to spend their time. You can serve as a sounding board, and also offer kids some reminders of what’s available (“I just put a couple of boxes in the recycle bin, you’re welcome to play with those” Or “I think Jack next door is home today”) and soon they’ll be on their way to self-directed fun.


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