Boredom can help children develop problem-solving skills and creativity. It also can alert you to problems, such as anxiety or loneliness. Once you've talked to your child and ruled out an underlying problem, you need to help him learn to entertain himself. Solving the problem for him, even by giving him a book to read, robs him of the chance to think creatively about options for filling his time. However, leaving him completely to his own devices can make him feel abandoned. Find a happy compromise by suggesting places to start and strategies to complete his ideas.
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Your 10-year-old is beginning to take control over her life and her time. Boredom can help her figure out what she really enjoys as long as you resist the urge to fix it or mask it with quick fixes, such as computer time or television. Turn an old shoe box into a treasure chest filled with boredom-buster ideas. Help your child fill it full of new ideas to try. The ideas can be a mix of fun things, such as, "See how many baskets you can shoot in a row," and mundane tasks, such as, "Mop the floor." These "treasures" will alleviate her immediate boredom, inspire her in future moments and help her learn to solve problems on her own.
Capitalize on your 10-year-old's enjoyment of organizing by encouraging him to plan a healthy meal for the family. The chances are good that a bored 'tween will resist most attempts to recruit him into household help, but meal planning and cooking might entice him to pitch in. Keep him busy checking the ingredients, making a shopping list and doing some prep work for the big meal. At 10, she is old enough to look through cookbooks and compare the needed ingredients with what's on hand in the kitchen. Let your child choose some special elements, but make sure that he formulates a well-balanced, healthy plan. If he's really enjoying the project, expand it into planning another night or fixing up the dining room for the special meal.
Answer a Question
Help your child brainstorm a list of things he is curious about. Start with silly questions, such as, "How do magicians make things disappear?" Ten-year-olds typically have tons of great ideas but find it difficult to organize them into a plan. Challenge your child to find the answer to his favorite question online, then try a corresponding experiment or craft. For example, encourage him to explore slight-of-hand techniques or to create optical illusions. Starting with a question to answer, finding a corresponding project and following the directions to complete it provides an exciting challenge for many children. If your child resists making something, challenge him to see how long a list of silly questions he can make.
Call a Friend
Sometimes boredom masks loneliness. Your 10-year-old's social life is becoming increasingly important. Encourage her to call a friend and make a plan. If an immediate get-together isn't practical, she can at least talk to her friend on the phone or send an email. Making a plan might energize her and relieve the boredom, even if all she's done is talk for a few minutes. Similarly, writing a letter or email to out-of-town relatives might relieve some of her boredom, both through the task itself and by helping her feel more socially connected.