Bored?: Light Lessons with Patsie McCandless

What to do when your child says,

“I’m Bored.”

“This is boring…” “I’m bored…” “I am soooo b-o-r-ed…”

School’s out. Summer is here. Those dreaded words – “I’m bored.” – are not far behind. Even though your children may be surrounded by devices, toys, books, movies – and the great outdoors – this is the way of their world.

What do you say – or do – for Boredom?

When your child says those two lamentable words: “I’m bored.” – hopefully, you do nothing.

That may sound surprising. Most parents worry and wonder – How can my child be bored/ There is so much here to keep them engaged! There are so many activities! So much technology! We didn’t have half as much when we were growing up – we always found something to do.

And there you have it

Today our children live in a very different world, a world where everything is structured… managed… scheduled.

Thus, when a child is faced with Free Time – they may not know what to do with themselves and they display a general apathy and languor.

So, what do you say – or do?

Often, feeling a bit annoyed yourself, you try to make suggestions: Well, how about trying this? No? Well, how about doing that? This usually meets with a brick wall.

Suggestions for Boredom do not help.

Why not? Because your child is in a state of arrest – meaning he/she is not interested, not participating, not joining in, not occupying oneself, not engaged.

Part of the reason for this is that children don’t know what to do with Free Time when it rears its unfamiliar, bewildering head.

The real problem

Parents think Boredom is a tiresome, tedious, worthless, incompetent and inept state in which to wallow. They feel that their child is not being productive.

The real solution

Parents need to understand: It is not your responsibility – or your job – or your place – to come up with answers or guides or remedies to your child’s boredom.


You will only create more boredom!

What is Boredom?

You see… actually… Boredom is a cue for your child: it is prompting your child to find something to do – all by him/her Self! Boredom is a very good thing!

Remember, your brain loves NEW.

When you are bored, it is your brain signaling you: let’s do something novel, fresh, different! This is how innovators and imaginators create.

There are wonderful examples of people who created by using Boredom as inspiration: Shakespeare wrote “King Lear” when he was quarantined from the plague. Same with the classic artist, Titian, who painted the “Pieta” during a plague. And another plague sent Isaac Newton out of London and off to his mother’s farm – where he had time to watch apples falling from a tree!

Boredom lets you muddle and puzzle

You solve the challenge of Boredom by allowing yourself to find your own way through it, because it will lead to something new that gratifies.

Nothing creates Something.

In Becoming Jesse, the old storyteller explains how the opposites create your own world, all needing each other. “The Opposites – it’s all energy. One cannot exist without the other.”

 What you can do

So, when you hear those two words: “I’m b-o-r-e-d!”

– All you have to do is nod, maybe murmur, “Uh-huh…” and then look into your child’s eyes and say, “Lucky YOU! Now you get to figure out what YOU want to do! All by yourself! Have a ball!”

 No more – no less.

Basically, you let your child know that you value Free Time, and that he/she gets to enjoy it – to Light their very own star – as they wish! (I will say, avoid, at all costs, any tech screen device. You’ll end up with both bored and ill-tempered.)

You may not be able to resist saying, “Well, you can go clean your room…!” And you know how that ends: your bored child can suddenly find all sorts of things to do – anything, rather than clean!

A Boredom List

Yes, there are all sorts of things you could say to your child: read a classic book, write a card to great Aunt Hermione, wash the car, help your sister or brother, finish your Lego project, take a bike ride or a walk or a hike, make an obstacle course, set up the garden sprinkler and play “wet” tag….

But… such ideas are the things you can discuss with your children when they are NOT bored. When you are fresh and clear – when you don’t need a way to wriggle out of Boredom –  you can make a list together, and post it. Then you have done a good job preparing your children for when they are in the State of Boredom, regardless of where you are.

In the end

When faced with a Bored child, resist volunteering suggestions, providing ideas, or just out-and out telling him/her what to do. Do not be afraid of allowing your child to be bored. Yes, even when the idea of doing nothing feels counterintuitive. It is good for children – and for grownups – to be faced with the “Nothing”. For “Something” is always waiting to take its place.

Just smile and say, You’re Bored!” “Excellent! “Terrific!” Let your child know that boredom is good for you and your brain. It is the stimulus to explore, to go find something new – all by yourself!

Au revoir shining star!

Light On!

See Hints for Finding the New :