Wait for a Creative Moment
Another quick boredom fix is some paper and crayons. You can slip these items into your purse easily and pull them out whenever your child needs something to do. Suggest items for them to draw or let their creativity run free.
If you don’t have any toys, or your child has exhausted these items, “prepare to engage your child in conversation,” says Appel. If you’re waiting in the doctor’s office, ask your child what he thinks of the posters lining the walls or even to talk about various items in the room. The key is to begin the conversation. Spark a good dialogue and watch the time fly.
Be the Tour Guide
Kids are naturally curious about their surroundings. Serving as a tour guide, especially at a place like a restaurant, will occupy bored children. While waiting for the food, go outside and look around. Point out the various aspects of the restaurant and make it exciting. Once your child is done eating, pull those crayons back out.
Play a Game
Just about anything can be a game to a child. Try playing the classic game “I Spy,” suggests Dr. Vicki Panaccione, PhD, licensed child psychologist and founder of the Better Parenting Institute. And there are plenty of other games you can play, too, says Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and mother of two girls. “Who Am I?” is a great one for toddlers and preschoolers. Simply describe a character from a favorite story book or movie and have your child guess who it is. Rubin also suggests the classic game “Rock, Paper, Scissors” as a good way to pass time while waiting in line.
You can come up with all sorts of inventive questions to ask your children while waiting in traffic or for an appointment. Rubin advises trying a round of “This or That?” Ask whether your child would rather eat a hot dog or a hamburger, or if he’d rather be invisible or be able to fly.
Acknowledge the Wait
Sometimes, all you can do is suck it up and wait—but you can make the time go by quicker by talking about what you’re waiting for, explains Dr. Panaccione. “If it’s a movie, talk about what the child thinks will happen,” says Dr. Panaccione, or if you’re “at the grocery store, guess how much it will cost, how many bags the food will fill,” you get the idea. Sometimes acknowledging the wait and talking about how much you can’t wait for it to be over and get onto the good stuff can help you bond with your child.
Many parents get so caught up in dealing with bored children by reprimanding them, they forget how easy it can be to transform these moments into something fun. By using down time as an opportunity to bond, you make the time pass more quickly and provide ample opportunity for creativity to take flight.