Bored to Cheers: How to Keep the Kids Entertained

Think Outside the Toy Box

When Patrick's boredom escalated after kindergarten graduation last summer, I would defensively respond, "Look at all these toys you have in your room. Why don't you play with one of with them?" Problem is, experts say that when kids are feeling bored, a Tech Deck or a Barbie won't perk them up. "They're craving something unique to play with," says Robert Epstein, Ph.D., a child psychologist in San Diego.

Make sure your child knows that regular household stuff -- a paper-towel holder, a giant cardboard box, dried noodles and other fun-shaped pasta, paper bags, extra buttons of all colors and sizes -- is up for grabs, as long as she asks for your permission first. But resist packing up the supplies into a "boredom box" because it takes away from the sense of discovery. Says Dr. Epstein, "Suppose your child got the idea to make a hand puppet out of materials around the house. She'll build more problem-solving skills by searching from room to room to come up with what she's going to use for eyes than by opening a box and finding everything she needs right there."

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