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Why do kids aged 5 to 12 get bored?

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Sorry, another boredom question (can you tell I'm writing about boredom?!).

Do you think children aged between 5 and 12 are more likely to get bored at home because
a) they're extremely stimulated at school, surrounded by friends, activities etc so home might seem boring in comparison
b) they're at that age where they have some independence but not maybe as much as they'd like
c) activities, such as cleaning/tidying, which may have seemed like fun before, now just seem like plain old chores

Also, what do YOU find boring with this age group. Is it boring having to ferry them from classes and activities and friends' houses? Is the constant nagging to get stuff done boring? Is it boring having to pack their lunch/get them ready for school every single day? Or is it all just one long happy joyous time of un-boringness?!

Thanks for any input!!
#1 - September 22, 2011, 07:29 AM

I will be reading this with interest. My two boys (ages 5 and 9) are extremely bored at home once they use up their electronic time. I don't want to be constantly entertaining them, but they sorta mope around on days when we're home. I'm wondering if the key is to get rid of electronic time or what?
#2 - September 22, 2011, 08:13 AM
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The research I've been doing seems to indicate that less reliance on external stimuli (TV/internet/video games etc), the better kids are at entertaining themselves and so, aren't bored as often. Also, though, that even with a multitude of information/entertainment sources, people still get bored. Novelty is supposed to be the cure, but I know that during my childhood there were times that even the suggestion of doing something new seemed boring! It's almost as though it's an emotion that you're stuck in sometimes, not that it's necessarily caused by lack of external stimuli.

I'd love to know what others think about it. How to resolve it and what causes it.
#3 - September 22, 2011, 08:34 AM

I don't have any data to back this up...but...for 5 years I taught at a private Montessori school where the families were mostly non-TV/non-video game sort of parents.  Those kids had no problem using their imagination and creativity to spend hours in nature, with art, reading, etc. 

As a public school teacher, now, I find much less of that "stick-to-itiveness" that I saw with the non-TV/gaming families. 

I see it in my own son.  When his PSP broke, that was it, game over, unless he spent his own money.  He can read and play the guitar (and text) for hours without a game system - I prefer to see him do that.

#4 - September 22, 2011, 08:43 AM
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J.Ro, I've just been reading about a Canadian study of a town they named 'Notel' where there was no TV reception. They compared the kids from that town to others where there was TV and guess what they found? Yep, the no-TV kids scored significantly better on creativity tests.

It kind of makes me wonder whether I'd be more creative if I didn't have an internet connection!? Eek.
#5 - September 22, 2011, 08:56 AM

A) I certainly don't think it's a response to not being at school. My kids can get bored during the summer for sure, and I think if anything they need a break from all the structure at school.

B) Sometimes, just like me, boredom is a response to not wanting to do what's in front of you, or maybe it's better to say not being engaged by what's in front of you. I mean, it's not that emptying the dishwasher is boring because I'm just unmotivated. It's truly a task that doesn't engage my mind in a new and exciting way.

C) I have read studies that show that the stimulus the internet (or similar things I assume) affects your brain chemistry so that disengaging from it makes you feel down - hence the "addiction" issues people feel.

D) I get bored. Usually it's when my mind isn't engaged in something. Being at home all day cleaning and fixing food can be boring. It's why I try to make it more interesting by making my own cleaners, or learning new recipes. But repetition is just boring. I don't like chastising kids for being bored. I remember being bored, and it's an awful feeling. When I'm on my game as a mom (and honestly, sometimes I'm not and just give them a metaphorical kick in the pants) I help them find something engaging to do. They don't always need to be doing chores. But if they've done their chores and homework and are bored out of their mind, I direct them to drawing or reading or playing trains or blocks and that helps. Sometimes the problem is that they're stuck - like I'm making dinner and can't play with them, their toddler brother is being difficult, they can't read yet and it's too rainy to go outside... that's just boring. Their minds are stuck. As an independent agent, they'd jump in the car and go to the store or the park and get un-bored, but they don't have that control over their environment, like adults do (or wish we did...) and that lack of control is a big part of it, too, I think.
#6 - September 22, 2011, 09:03 AM
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I think there's a terminology problem, sometimes. "Bored" and "I don't want to do what's in front of me to do" are two different things.

I do think that learning to "entertain oneself" -- often with help from the imagination -- is a LEARNED skill that is neglected or not flexed when there's too much external entertainment, though. I think it's even apparent in the differences between first children and the "baby" of the family. The latter usually has much more difficulty entertaining themselves, and much more need for constant stimulation from other people, because they are so used to being the focus of attention, and never left alone, in those formative years.
#7 - September 22, 2011, 09:14 AM
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I was homeschooled and we didn't have the internet until I was 14, and my computer/video game time was restricted. I was very good at entertaining myself creatively! But I still got bored. Really bored. I actually think boredom is a good thing sometimes, because it does force you to be creative. When I got bored as a kid, it was usually because I desperately wanted to go to the library or the mall or something and my mom wouldn't take me, but in hindsight I think all that would have happened was, I would have gotten bored of the library and the mall too...
#8 - September 22, 2011, 09:20 AM
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Another interesting discussion. I agree entertaining yourself is a learned thing, and kids are so stimulated everywhere they go that they might quickly feel bored when there isn't an apparent stimulus in front of their face.

I also think there is an element of restlessness that plays into being bored. I remember feeling restless a lot when I was a kid, but maybe I complained about being bored because I didn't have the vocabulary. Kids have energy to want to do something but can't always, as someone else said above, change their environment. Energy plus restrictions equals boredom.
#9 - September 22, 2011, 09:48 AM

I remember being really bored on Sundays.
Lousy TV shows.


To relieve that boredom I used to make lots of paperdolls and illustrations. Hundreds of them.

(Still do come to think of it.)
#10 - September 22, 2011, 09:50 AM
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I think it can depend on the kid, too. My  9yo son is obsessed with video games, computers, electronics of any kind. He is only allowed to do 30 minutes on the weekdays, and he constantly tells me he is bored. But what he really means is, "I don't want to do anything else except computer, Wii, or my DS." My 7yo daughter also gets her 30 minutes of screen time, and enjoys it. But when it is over, she is great at coming up with stories, games, art, or whatever to occupy herself, and she never tells me she is bored. Thankfully, she sucks the others (I also have two under 5years), including her older brother, into her escapades.
#11 - September 22, 2011, 11:15 AM
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I don't doubt that if you're used to not having TV and computer games and the like, you've worked out other things to do to pass the time, and that those things are probably more craft, skill, art, and nature related and so much more interesting and engaging over long periods. But just for fun I'd like to throw the opposite out there--as a kid I didn't watch TV and then be bored after the TV was off. I watched TV because I was bored, but what was on TV was incredibly boring too. That is, it was really boring to watch TV!! I also read a ton and of course that wasn't boring at all, because if a book was really boring I switched it to a book that was less boring--and the selection of awesome books I had access to was a lot bigger than the chances of something truly engaging and well done on TV.

---Oops, I see now there's a thread just below this one about what I just said . . .

#12 - September 22, 2011, 11:59 AM
« Last Edit: September 22, 2011, 12:01 PM by KeithM »
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I think it is due to the lamentable lack of lions, tigers and bears. It's hard to be bored when you might be lunch.

I've been writing YA instead of picture books, can you tell?

 :laugh eab
#13 - September 22, 2011, 02:19 PM

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I think it is due to the lamentable lack of lions, tigers and bears. It's hard to be bored when you might be lunch.

I've been writing YA instead of picture books, can you tell?

 :laugh eab

Actually, I think IT'S HARD TO BE BORED WHEN YOU MIGHT BE LUNCH has the makings of a great PB.  :moose
#14 - September 22, 2011, 02:58 PM
« Last Edit: September 22, 2011, 03:27 PM by Laurenwrites »

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The research I've been doing seems to indicate that less reliance on external stimuli (TV/internet/video games etc), the better kids are at entertaining themselves
From my first-hand experience with a sample size of 1 (!)...my daughter was brought up with a fairly strict limit on TV time, and didn't go near the computer or a DS for her first few years. She now enjoys (limited) time on all, but also has no problem amusing herself. She uses her toys to put on productions, using character voices, etc, and enjoys getting into the garden and exploring the plants, etc. She also loves reading - especially non fiction books. She is 8. IMHO, I think the less you "spoon feed" information and entertainment and the more you encourage them to find things out for themselves and interact with the world, the more they can keep themselves amused.
How's that for a universal theory based on a sample size of one? :  )
#15 - September 22, 2011, 03:09 PM
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I've noticed a very clear pattern with my kids: on extended breaks from school (like winter break or summer vacation) they are at first bored and have a hard time finding things to do. But after a few days, something in their brain seem to shift and they can play for hours on end without getting bored. So my assumption is that it's hard to shift into creative/open play when you've been in a highly scheduled situation all day or for weeks on end. I also think that limiting screen time plays an important role. If the kids know up front that they are allowed a limited amount of time in front of the TV or computer, then they tend to figure out other things to do the rest of the time.

Oh, one other thought. I think different people have different baselines for boredom. One of my kids is much less likely to get bored than the other and it's been that way from the beginning, regardless of what kind of schedule we have going on.

Interesting topic. Good luck with it!
#16 - September 22, 2011, 03:10 PM
« Last Edit: September 22, 2011, 03:12 PM by Laura W. »

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I did not grow up in the electronics age, television shows for children were mostly in the hour before the news came on and on Saturday.  I vividly recall that if I told my mother I was bored she had a long list of things I could do: dusting, clean my room, clean the bathroom, clean my closest, do dog patrol, rake leaves, etc.  All those things a kid does not want to end up doing, I learned early never to tell my mother I was bored. 

I was lucky in the fact that I was an avid reader from a very early age, I would read anything, I had neighbors with kids around my age - not that they could always play and I learned at times that a younger brother wasn't always that awful. 

I think boredom comes from wanting someone to find entertainment for you.  The TV entertains you, a video game keeps you entertained and it becomes a time when kids at that age (with limited bondries) need to use their own minds to find the entertainment.  We had blocks - kids today would probably have legos.  At times my brother and I, depending on the time of year would take over the living room or enclosed front porch with our blocks and our imaginations took over from there.  (these of course had to be picked up by the time my father came home - we had a small house and were probably ready to put them away at that time anyway.  Often on Saturday nights we had family game nights - the only time we were allowed to drink pop (unless we were at our grandparent's house). 

My brothers' room also had the biggest closet that went back to the rafters - we had a great time playing in their much to the chagrin of my oldest brother.

But again, we did not rely on television and video games as one of our main entertainment factors.  Neither my younger brother nor I have a television that picks up TV stations, they are good only for playing DVDs. 

I think offering a variety of jobs, including handwriting letters to anyone in the family that may not live nearby may solve some of the boredom issues.  However, they need to have the sort of games and toys, along with books that will require the use of imagination. 
#17 - September 22, 2011, 04:47 PM
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That's interesting, Laura (the adjusting after a few days into the holidays). I guess it's the same as it takes us adults a while to get settled into vacation mode... by which time it's usually time to go home!

eab, I think LaurenWrites has a point! But your post did also make me wonder... did prehistoric wo/man get bored? I know the concept wasn't introduced until quite recently (a few centuries), but could a person really get bored when they were constantly on the hunt/gather for food, warmth and safety? Then again, they had free time for painting cave walls and making bone jewelry to stick in their noses, right?! So I guess you even get bored with lions, tigers and bears around. He he. 
#18 - September 22, 2011, 06:11 PM

There's actually a nonfiction book all about boredom and the importance of it. How it leads our brains to push out and think new thoughts. It's called, Boredom: A Lively History by Peter Toohey:

http://www.amazon.com/Boredom-Lively-History-Peter-Toohey/dp/0300141106/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1316781635&sr=1-1
#19 - September 23, 2011, 05:36 AM
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Then again, they had free time for painting cave walls and making bone jewelry to stick in their noses, right?! So I guess you even get bored with lions, tigers and bears around. He he.

I read somewhere, sometime that most hunter-gatherers had far more free time than most early farmers, and that a few prehistoric people (who lived in very food-rich landscapes) had far more free time than the typical worker today. I'm not sure where I read this. It might have been Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond?

When I was a kid, my dad always said, "If you're bored you're boring." As you might imagine, this little pearl of wisdom failed to prevent me from being bored. However, I didn't complain about boredom much because it usually resulted in me getting lots of impromptu chore assignments.
#20 - September 23, 2011, 09:18 AM
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Because they are spoiled and don't do useful work. Even children need to be productive members of society. If my kids complain about being bored, I give them chores and you should see how quickly they disappear outside to play (or do the chores that I assign them -- yes, they actually like some chores). Both my kids have things they must do (pet care, house work, home work, etc.) and boredom hasn't been much of an issue.

I have also seen a connection between TV/Internet usage and subsequent "I am bored" statements. We started to let our children have some daily screen time once they had homework projects to do on the computer (around age 8-9) and it invariably led to, "Can I play a game for 15 min?" This is why, screen time is still limited. WE are one of those TV-less video-less families. We watch a movie once a week and it's a great family affair with hot buttered popcorn.

Vijaya

#21 - September 23, 2011, 10:24 AM
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I think boys just have short attention spans. I have a boy and a girl. They both tend to get bored when there aren't any other kids around. They're social creatures, I guess, and both tend to get bored more when they're alone.
#22 - September 23, 2011, 10:58 AM
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KarenB, I've got the book! It's been really useful but hasn't helped me identify why this age group in particular gets bored, which is what I'm after.

Melissa, I'll look into that. I've got Guns, Germs and Steel but have only dipped in and out of it. Guess I'll have to give it a proper read.

Vijaya, do you really think all boredom comes down to being spoiled and not doing useful work? Cripes. I get bored. I get bored doing useful work!! I wonder what that says about me...
#23 - September 23, 2011, 11:04 AM

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Vijaya, do you really think all boredom comes down to being spoiled and not doing useful work? Cripes. I get bored. I get bored doing useful work!! I wonder what that says about me...

Well, I'm unpacking and it's sort of mindless work, but I am not bored. I can't remember a time when I've ever been bored. Even when I do really mundane tasks, I seem to enjoy them. I don't know what that says about me. LOL. I do let my mind wander a lot while doing repetitive tasks. But everything I do has a purpose, whether it's cooking dinner, cleaning bathrooms, writing, reading, praying, walking or just looking out the window enjoying the view.

Maybe I meant to say that boredom really comes from not being feeling purposeful. I don't know how anybody can be bored if their mind is engaged in working, playing or thinking. Sorry. I don't get it and my kids bear the brunt of it when they say anything to the effect of "I'm bored" or "There's nothing to do" because I can find plenty of fun things to do.

Vijaya 
#24 - September 23, 2011, 01:16 PM
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Honestly, when it's the 9,000 day in a row that I've had to tidy the house, prepare all the meals, do all the laundry -- all day, every day, I get super BORED of those tasks once in a while, despite the mindlessness of them.  Sometimes being the PARENT and playing Go Fish for the 20th time that day or mediating the nineteenth bickering match between the 4 kids is boring.  Sometimes routine is just plain boring, whether you are six or forty-six.  I mean, I really admire people who plan three meals a day, every day, for YEARS, and seem invigorated by the process.  Or attack vacuuming with enthusiasm and inspiration.  (Just a heads up, if you ever stop by my house.)  Other than the eventual satisfaction of doing those things, I almost never approach them with a spark of "Yay, I get to do *this*! Whoopee!"  Chores are, well, a chore.  And sometimes, so is exercise.  Or writing. Or any number of other things. 

Maybe it's our body's/soul's way of telling us we need a break, a change, a step-outside-the-box thing, or just a simple....being still.  And, then doing *that*.  I think restlessness leads to being bored -- and maybe when we are restless, it's time to sit still and consider why. What do we really need?

Or, we just need jumping jacks.

My kids get bored from time to time -- bored with playing outside, bored with TV, bored with toys, bored with crafts, bored with books, bored with each other.  Kids are no different than adults -- but adults do have the ability to choose how they attack the boredom -- kids are limited by what their parents/care givers deem is appropriate boredom-relieving activities.  I mean, some adults who are bored will surf the Internet for a half hour (or more) to fill the time.  Or they text their friends.  Or go shopping.  Or go for a run, even if it's 9 p.m.  Kids don't always have the same range of options -- so they complain.



#25 - September 23, 2011, 02:17 PM

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Well, Jenna, if it makes you feel any better (it does me), I found a tonne of research about how boredom is a precursor to creativity... and how it's not something we should feel guilty about because it is simply another human emotional state.

I think maybe different people define boredom in different ways. For me, it's about my body/brain wanting to do something different but I don't know what it is yet! So in the meantime, my brain/body wants activity but I can't provide it.

I worked in a call centre once and because I had to be talking the whole time, I couldn't do anything else – THAT was boring and there really wasn't a way around it. I tried putting more enthusiasm into it, putting on funny voices, imagining what kind of person was on the other end of the line, but in the end, there would still be loooooooong hours that were just plain boring.
#26 - September 23, 2011, 02:49 PM

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e.

I think maybe different people define boredom in different ways. For me, it's about my body/brain wanting to do something different but I don't know what it is yet! So in the meantime, my brain/body wants activity but I can't provide it. 

Exactly!!
#27 - September 23, 2011, 03:20 PM

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When I was a kid, my dad always said, "If you're bored you're boring." As you might imagine, this little pearl of wisdom failed to prevent me from being bored. However, I didn't complain about boredom much because it usually resulted in me getting lots of impromptu chore assignments.


I knew a teacher that taught at a very exclusive private school.  Yep, one of those.  She taught all her kids to knit, did other things in her class with the kids and occasionally a parent would come in and complain to her that their 'precious child was quite bored in her classroom.'

Her response back to the parent(s) was also "only boring people get bored."   :knit:

I believe because the administration knew how much extra she put into her class, she was never called down on it no matter who the parents were or how much money they had in the community.  There was just too much to do in her classroom for someone to get bored.   
#28 - September 23, 2011, 05:18 PM
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My 11 year old says she doesn't get bored. :)
#29 - September 23, 2011, 05:19 PM
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I seldom get bored.  When I have a feeling of this is a boring job, like washing the dishes for the billionth time, my mind wanders and I think of all sorts of things, I do not think about the job I am doing.  I hate washing the dishes, I dream of the day I will have a dishwasher -eh, probably won't happen.  I hate dusting - my mom cross-stitched a framed saying that "Killer Dust Bunnies Protect This House."  When I do dust I am always pleasantly surprised to find what I have buried on my dresser or tables.  I admit it I am mostly a slob.  I found a wonderful quote today that sums up why I probably do not find chores boring.

"We adore chaos because we love to produce order."  M.C. Escher

A few years back the FLYLADY was a big thing on the internet, she would give you your daily reminders on how to keep your house clean.  The only one that I loved and still use is the 10 minute trash and pick-up routine.  You can choose how many times a day you do this and it even works with kids.  One can take a trash bag and one a laundry basket and in ten minutes you pick up everything that doesn't belong in a room and put it where it does belong.  When the timer is done, your done. 

I think who gets bored and when they get bored does depend a lot on how much external stimulation they feel they need to be entertained.  I am content to be by myself, many people feel the need to be around other people or to at least hear or be doing something that stimulates that need to 'be' with someone, whether it is a person or if it is something they can hear, watch or play actively with.  Why do some people want to climb mountains while some of us are content to take pictures of them? 
#30 - September 23, 2011, 05:35 PM
You must do the things you think you cannot do.  Eleanor Roosevelt

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