Thursday, March 24, 2011

There's nothing to do!

A child who is old enough to verbalize that “There’s nothing to do” is old enough and capable of thinking about how to solve this problem. While it may be tempting to come up with a solution, it’s not our job, as parents to entertain them 24 hours a day. Our job is to teach them how to entertain themselves.

Children may be able to creatively resolve this problem, if we give them the opportunity. This means resisting the urge to jump in and do their thinking for them. Here are some ideas:

• Validate and respect the child’s feelings first, rather than encouraging them to find something to do. “Sounds like you’re getting bored.” Or “Perhaps you’ve watched enough TV, huh?”

• Offer to help, such as “Is there something that you need from me?” “Let me know if there’s something I can do.” Continue to do what you were doing, though, or get busy with something you want to do.

• Invite the child to think. “What would you like to do?” or “Tell me two things that sound good to do right now.”

• Give permission to do nothing - unless that’s exactly what your child has been doing all day. “You certainly deserve a break.” “It’s okay to do nothing for a few minutes. Would you like to spend some time with me?”

• When all else fails, and you’re child continues to complain that there’s nothing to do, come up some well-thought-out ideas, such as organizing a kitchen cupboard or sweeping the sidewalk. I was always happy to hand my child the Chore Jar or my To Do List and ask for help. Sometimes I was pleasantly surprised when they were actually bored enough to help me out!

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