Bored to Cheers: How to Keep the Kids Entertained

Focus on Creativity

It's okay to suggest a solution for kids when they're bored, especially if it's been at least ten or 15 minutes and they haven't been able to come up with something on their own. But the most common distractions -- turning on a TV show, popping a movie into the DVD player, or even handing over your iPhone -- teach your child to expect instant gratification. In the short term, they will likely keep your kid occupied for a while. "But in the long run, those fixes will make your child less tolerant of quiet time because he'll feel that he always has to be responding to something," says Dr. Epstein. "Plus, there's usually nothing creative about them."

A smart project that will last all summer long: a vegetable, flower, or windowsill garden. Five- and 6-year-olds can water, weed, sow seeds, pick food and flowers, and even sketch the progress of their plants in a journal. "Within reason, let them decide what to plant and where to make the garden. Sometimes it will work out and sometimes it won't, but giving them freedom helps promote creative thinking," says Dr. Cuneo.

Originally published in the June 2011 issue of Parents magazine.

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