Ten Ways to Ward Off a Ten-Year-Old’s Boredom

This column started with a desperate-sounding plea on Facebook by my cousin twice removed. (Ok, if you don’t explain your relatives with that kind of “once removed, twice removed” terminology, this is my cousin’s daughter’s daughter. Got that?) I think I met her only once when she was a baby, but I feel like I have a working knowledge of her life from her frequent postings on Facebook. Which is one of the reasons I enjoy Facebook.

Here was Kacey’s plea: “Ok anyone out there with boys around ten years: please tell what your kids do!”

Kacey is an awesome young mother and former teacher (I’ll just use first names throughout) who lives in Goshen, Ind., where I grew up and where The Goshen News uses this column. Earlier this summer, just as school was letting out, I was much impressed that Kacey shared one of those idealistic beginning-of-summer charts outlining a potential schedule of daily activities for her children—one ten-year-old boy and two much younger ones, a girl and a boy, one year and two, respectively. And therein lay the challenge: how do you keep a ten-year-old from lamenting the age-old “I’m bored” while simultaneously keeping toddlers happy?

Here was Kacey’s plea: “Ok anyone out there with boys around ten years: please tell what your kids do!!!! If mine isn’t watching TV or playing a video game, all he does is complain that he’s bored! He doesn’t play with toys, sees no enjoyment in reading, and won’t do anything unless we do too (like a game). He plays outside, but only if friends are here! Arghhhhh!!!!”

Other experienced Moms and aunts/cousins chimed in quickly with empathy and ideas. I asked permission to use their comments and I chose what I thought were the best ten

Sarah: “Brodie is ten and LOVES to be outside so we have him mow and walk the dog. We try to do lots of family bike rides. He’s started running with me some. We’re trying to give him more responsibility and that’s helped some. But trust me… he’s still bored all the time.”

Sue: “Dominic has been reading A LOT, puzzles, drawing, sidewalk chalk, a little electronics.”

Heidi: [Listing her son’s activities]: “Mow, chores around the house, reads (partly because I make him) rides his bike.”

Jessica: “Brady’s favorites are to ride his bike and kick a soccer ball around. He also enjoys word searches right now.”

Molly: “Put a limit on TV/video game time each day and allow him to use the time as he pleases. Then together with him, make a list of things he could do by himself when he doesn’t have a friend or parent to play with him. When he says he is bored, tell him to refer to his list. I bet his Aunt Leets would love a handwritten letter from him!”

Melissa: “Since he likes basketball, see if he wants to see how many free throws he can shoot in a row. Have him chart his improvement. Set a goal with a reward that he will get at the end of the summer. Watch and encourage him or shoot with him every now and then as he is doing it. It will improve his basketball, physical activity and something fun to do.”

Carla: “The rule in my house is that screen time must match non screen activity time. Also next year I would suggest 4-H. My 13-year-old is the same way. But this year he is in rockets and bike club. But the clubs through 4-H are endless. And the library has a great summer program of activities.”

Wendy: “Is he involved in a church youth group? My granddaughter made a summer ‘bucket list’ of things she wanted to do alone and also with family. Set up a 500 Piece puzzle. Maybe have him help Sam [younger brother] learn his ABC’s, take Zoey [baby] for walks in the stroller, offer to do yard work for someone who could use help in your church or neighborhood, play catch with friends to hone baseball skills. It really is good for them to learn to deal with boredom, sometimes great ideas are birthed when they are bored and sit around thinking.”

Anitra: “Ty’s favorites: Shoots bow and arrow at made up target, rides bike, uses his scooter or bike to do jumps on his ramp, practices dribbling soccer ball or basketball, makes art creations, uses odd pieces of wood to build things.”

Chanda: This summer, I have Christopher signed up for two church camps, baseball, basketball, golf, football, & tennis camp, program at the library, and there is lunch and splash pad down the road and he still sometimes says he’s bored! LOL, I think it’s just today’s generation because when I was a kid my parents use to have to tell us to come in from outside.”

Kacey wrapped up the conversation with “Thanks everyone for your ideas and suggestions! The crazy thing is… Hayden does ALL of those! I’m thinking we have so many structured activities, that when there is free time, the kids are lost! With Little League and travel baseball ending this week, he can focus on getting his calf ready for 4-H and just playing!”

And thank you, Kacey and friends for writing this crowd-sourced column this week. Now I can go be bored (that’s rarely a problem!).

What ideas do you have for Kacey and friends? Share your ideas and tips on the Facebook page for Another Way Newspaper Column or send to, or to Another Way, 1251 Virginia Avenue, Harrisonburg, VA 22802.

Posted 7/10/2014 7:00:00 AM

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