One Saturday afternoon, my 6-year-old son, Patrick, flung himself on the couch and announced that he was bored. He quickly added, "And don't say 'Good.'" Since Patrick anticipated my usual response, I told him, "That's wonderful, honey," and continued straightening up the house.
Sure, I play with Patrick, but usually not when he pleads boredom. Child-development experts say that rather than rushing to relieve your kid's doldrums, it's best for him to figure out something to do on his own -- or just be nudged ever so slightly in the right direction. "Seemingly boring situations can be a fabulous opportunity for kids to stretch their imagination," says Christopher Willard, Psy.D., a child psychologist in Boston and author of Child's Mind. "In fact, some kids aren't motivated to be creative unless they're bored."
Good thing, because boredom season is upon us. "Five- and 6-year-olds are used to the structured routine of school," says Kathleen Cuneo, Ph.D., a child psychologist in Nanuet, New York. "When their schedule loosens up during summer break, many won't know what to do with themselves." Instead of signing your kid up for an endless stream of classes and camps, help him grow accustomed to a day where there's often a dull moment. Experts provide ways to make it easy.