Bored to Cheers: How to Keep the Kids Entertained

Reward Playing Alone

At school, your child has 20 or so possible playmates. At home, he may be by himself -- or just with a sibling. Making that tough adjustment is often a reason why he resorts to the "B" word. To head off the problem, in the few remaining weeks before school lets out build in time for your kid to hang out solo -- doing a puzzle, building a fort with Legos, and looking through picture books are great activities for kids this age. Suggest them if your child needs a jumping-off point, but otherwise let him come up with something on his own.

Start with just 15 or 20 minutes of by-himself time, and add five or ten more minutes each week, eventually working up to an hour. (Of course, you shouldn't ever leave your child unsupervised anywhere there could be a safety issue, such as the kitchen or garage.) A clever twist: Child therapist Jennifer Kolari, author of Connected Parenting, gives her daughter a puzzle piece every time she plays alone in her bedroom for a certain length of time. When the puzzle is completed, they go out together for a special date.

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