Solve My Problem: It’s Summer And My Kids Are Bored Stiff!
Cheers at the arrival of summer seem to dissolve quickly into whines of, “I’m bored!” Here, ADDitude readers offer boredom busters to keep kids with ADHD engaged as summer heats up.
It’s a tale as old as time: School is finally over for the year and your child is ecstatic! But the very next day, you hear the dreaded whine: “I’m bored.” This refrain tends to recur with frustrating frequency until, at long last, you slip your child’s backpack onto their shoulders again.
Kids with ADHD often rail against structure but benefit enormously from it, and the freewheeling days of summer can prove hard for them to navigate. So, we asked ADDitude readers to share some of the ways they respond when their kids complain of boredom. As always, they had plenty of creative solutions to offer:
“I created a chart that has different activities grouped into five types of play—physical, electronic, imaginative, friend, and brainiac—to help them mix it up. If they do something electronic (often a first choice), they should do something physical or with a friend next.”
“Humans need to be bored. Constant entertainment makes us less creative, while boredom sparks flexibility and problem-solving. So I say, let them be bored! I tell my kids: I’m not a cruise director and it’s not my job to come up with something for them to do.”
“I agree boredom is good, but boredom is a massive anger trigger for my son, so I find ways to set him up for success with systems, routine, timers, supporting interests, encouragement, and a whole lot of patience.”
“When my child says, “I’m bored,” she needs my assistance to understand what she wants to experience. I ask a series of questions. First: Would you like to do something alone or with someone? If they want company I ask: Are you wanting to do something with me or with a friend? Then: Do you want to be inside or outside? I continue asking questions until she figures out something she is interested in doing.”
“We let our son build, tear down, and pretty much “destroy” our yard. I had to close my eyes at all the debris but he and his friends had fun.”
“Provide them with access to materials like craft supplies, LEGOs, shovels, and other tools for digging outside.”
“Baking is incredible because it checks many boxes, including teaching them a valuable skill, feeding themselves, even navigating the Internet.”
“Pause before jumping in to rescue them from their boredom. Boredom is not a bad thing. In fact, it can be quite a gift! It can be a catalyst for creativity, learning to come up with their own ideas, learning about the things that they like (or don’t like), and them learning to self-soothe, self-regulate and solve their own problems. I’m a total ideas person…. but I give them at least 30 minutes to try and figure something out on their own first. The last thing I want is for my son to grow up be the kind of man who can’t generate his own ideas.”
“If I’ve learned one thing about my ADHD, it’s that dopamine is what it’s all about. Depending on their age, give them chores or “activities” to do, with a reward at the end. Whatever reward is meaningful … a quarter, a piece of candy, screen time, etc.”
“Assign chores! They will never dare to be bored again.”
Boredom Busters for Kids with ADHD: Next Steps
- Read: “When the Lazy Days of Summer Are Too Lazy”
- Watch: “A Summer Schedule for Kids with ADHD — How to Balance Fun, Independence & Structure“
- Read: Boredom and the ADHD Brain
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