SEL Tip: Responding to “I’m Bored”

Girl Holding Pool Noodle


It’s 6:00 p.m. and your family is juggling homework, dinner, and evening extra curriculars, when you hear it, the voice of your children speaking the dreaded sentence, “I’m bored.” Your eyes widen slightly in disbelief and you wonder, “How could anyone be bored amidst this avalanche of activity?”

But this time, instead of letting “I’m bored” lead down a dark path of exhaustion, moping, and possibly fighting, you’re equipped with a new strategy. This time “I’m bored” will lead to the far sunnier path of exercising your family’s i-Can! mindset.

While it isn’t your responsibility to alleviate boredom, there are a few simple structures you can put in place at home to help your children alleviate it for themselves.


Preparing for “I’m Bored”

  • Keep games and toys within easy reach
  • Work with your children to create a list of things they can do when bored
  • Pair your list of things to do with guidelines for what not to do
  • Put a mini makerspace in your house so your children can create projects on their own


Responding to “I’m Bored”

  • When you hear “I’m bored,” acknowledge what your children have said and then point them towards the resources you’ve set up. For example, you might say, “Thank you for letting me know. Remember the list of activities we made? I know you can use that resource to figure out something interesting to do.”
  • If you haven’t set up any of the structures above, you can quickly help your children ideate activities. Some good ideation questions include:
    • Can you name three things you had fun doing last weekend?
    • What are three things you can do in your room? In the garage? With the basketball hoop? With your sister or brother?


We suggest by starting with making the list. We bet you can get it in place by the weekend!