When you’re a parent, it’s inevitable you’ll hear the refrain “I’m bored.”

So what do you say? Here are a couple of ways to deal with boredom.

First and foremost … our kids live their lives structured and managed. From school, sports events, birthday parties, relative visits, etc., they encounter a life where their stimulation is structured and placed before them.

When your child is faced with free time, they don’t have many of the internal skills needed to create their own stimulation.

What they say “I’m bored,” the underlying conversation may be:

“I’m not engaged.”

“I’m lonely.”

“I feel disconnected.”

“I don’t know how to entertain myself.”

In essence, “my brain and heart are craving something and I need to explore it until I find something that satisfies me.”

Internal satisfaction is a skill we learn as we develop.

So mom, dad, and grandparents, drop the guilt. This is your extraordinary opportunity to help your child grow their emotional intelligence.

With that said, here’s how you can help.

Dependent upon your child’s age, the next time your kid says “I’m bored,” you can smile and say kindly “I get it. I’m happy you have some free time. Now you can figure out something that isn’t boring to you.”

Over time and with repetition, as you give your child more free time, this response will start to work.

Another option is to create a list together of creative options that inspire your child. Put it on your fridge, and encourage your child to look at the list when they tell you how bored they are.

Below is a sample list we created to start the conversation of exploring free time and increasing your child’s ability to master boredom and grow internal skills.