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Just A Guy Whose Kids Say They're Bored

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It is not our job to be our kid's entertainment coordinator.

bored kids

Bruce Sallan: I'm amazed when my boys tell me they're bored. Bored? With all the options they have today? The best response I ever heard to a kid saying "I'm bored" was "No, you're boring." A brilliant reply from a parent, and I wish I'd said it first. It is not our job to be our kid's entertainment coordinator.

When I was a kid, we played. Seems kind of quaint. We made up games. One of my favorites was called Mongoose, where we took two books and hit a ping-pong ball back and forth between them with the object to see how long we could keep it going. Then, there are all the adventures we'd go on in our own Huck Finn way. Places to explore, bikes to ride, trees to climb.

Today, kids seem to only have their screens. We need to get our kids to discover the joy of play. Everyone knows the obesity statistics for kids. Why? Because they're sedentary and definitely watching too much TV. I'm not accepting my kids ever saying they're bored anymore. Go outside, read a book, draw, write a play, build something, take the dogs for a walk, clean your room, practice cartwheels, use your imagination, or just play.

Maybe they literally have too many choices and I'm being too critical. After all, life can and was easier in the past when choices were fewer. I'm not being sarcastic with this thought. Are our kids so overwhelmed that they're essentially stuck? With the Internet alone, they have the world literally at their fingertips. But, what do I know, I'm just a guy.

next: Tell the Truth, Kelly Ripa!
24 comments so far | Post a comment now
ashley May 2, 2009, 10:23 AM

It makes me sad how our kids are growing up. When I was a kid we weren’t allowed to play in the house!! Me and my 2 brothers played outside all day every day!!! OUr favorite game was american gladiators. We had our own made up obstacle course which included my uncles car!! When he finally came to get it he couldn’t figure out why it was covered in dents!!

Jeanne May 2, 2009, 11:13 AM

The world is definitely a different place than when I was growing up, that’s for sure. I also spent most of my time outdoors, and now as a parent, I can’t imagine letting my kids outside unsupervised the way that I used to be (the world is much scarier now!).

It’ll be interesting to see where we as a society will end up - if it’s really that different (i.e. human nature will prevail over environment?) or if it’ll be our downfall. Only time will tell I guess!

Anonymous May 2, 2009, 1:40 PM

That’s because parents have kids connected to everything electronic (computers, video games, ipods,etc.). Kids don’t know how to amuse themselves and that’s why they get bored. May 2, 2009, 5:14 PM

I love it.. “then maybe YOU are boring..” I’m definitely going to consider using that one. That’s hilarious. I completely agree that kids, in general, don’t play enough. And I mean P-L-A-Y, not sit in front of any kind of screen pushing buttons or just sitting like a bump on a log. I tell my kids often that while I love to play with them, it is not my job to entertain them. Sometimes when my oldest complains, and wants me to find something for her to do, I tell her that that was why I gave her a little sister :o) Funny enough, for now, she accepts that answer. But honestly, we have worked very hard to control how much vegetative time our kids have in front of the TV. We encourage a whole lot of imaginative play, inside the house, outside the house, and even when driving in the car (where the only time there will be a screen of any kind is when we are on a two day drive to the beach).

Krystine May 2, 2009, 6:58 PM

Curious if any of you remember “come home when the street lights come on”. I can’t even IMAGINE letting my 3 boys outside with out me, let alone going god knows where, doing god knows what, like we did, all day, every day in summer, when we were kids. It makes me sad. Kids should be able to be kids, they should be able to walk down the block to the park, ride their bikes to their buddies house, hell, play in the FRONT YARD, but they can’t. I won’t let them. Too many “what ifs” for me.

Wendy May 2, 2009, 11:50 PM

You said it perfectly. Todays kids do have a lot of options. I think the computer time should be limited. They absolutely need to go outside and PLAY!

Jaime May 3, 2009, 2:07 PM

What is really scary is hearing my mother’s words come out of my mouth (something I swore I’d never do)…”it’s ok to be bored”

Denise May 3, 2009, 2:54 PM

OMG, it’s like you’re talking about my kids! It makes me nuts when then talk like this. You are a real fresh voice and it’s great to get the man’s viewpoint, even if I may disagree with you now and then (like on the selfish parent thing…still not sure about that one!).


Renee May 3, 2009, 7:51 PM

I think we as parents are part of the problem. Rather than letting the kids play, we have to schedule their play (i.e. play groups, little league, soccer practice, etc.). Now, play time seems like a chore to them.

Margie Walker May 4, 2009, 7:02 PM

I have a teen and 2 tweens (twins). They are all fairly active, but I’ve found that the “bored” cry really only comes after a long day of school and homework. I think they’re just tired.

Monique May 5, 2009, 1:41 PM

My sentiments exactly. I have two kids, 5 and 7, and they are always pestering me to play on the computer. And I’m usually working on mine when they start up with “I’m bored….” We have a great backyard. The thing is, if I got out there more often, they’d follow me outside. If I just go weed the garden, then they’ll come out and ride bikes, or climb in the fort. Bruce, it’s great to hear the voice of a man who’s in touch with these issues here on momlogic.

Marla Vaughn May 6, 2009, 12:08 AM

Sometimes I think kids say that they’re bored only to get the attention of their parents or caretaker at the time. In other words, they know those words get a rise from the elders. How can a kid be bored these days??????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I just ignore the comment most of the time…..and now I don’t hear it anymore. What’s your experience with treating this comment and/or complaint?

Bruce Sallan May 6, 2009, 12:37 AM


I literally do what I said in the blog, I tell them, “No, You Are Boring!” as there’s so much to do and they have so much. How can anyone be bored in our world nowadays? For me, there aren’t enough hours in the day. And, I hardly watch television (the biggest waste of time there is, except with certain programs, occasionally).

Bruce Sallan

Anonymous May 7, 2009, 1:57 PM

When my kids (now grown) were younger I used the same phrase (“no, you’re boring”) with my kids. Worked like a charm. In short order, no more complaints.

neal stevens May 7, 2009, 2:12 PM

I agree very much about kids saying they’re bored, we have 3 & hear this quite often. There is so much at their fingertips & it’s easy to play video games & watch TV, etc. I want them to be creative & find constructive things to do, plus pick up a book, which they actually are doing.. I enjoyed article..

Jinny May 11, 2009, 1:12 AM

Super post, Need to mark it on Digg

Michal May 13, 2009, 12:21 PM

Yes, they are bored, and need to find their own positive ways to entertain themselves. We used to go out and play with our friends. With all the screens, kids need more human interaction!

Linda Thompson May 13, 2009, 5:11 PM

My kids, now high school teens, can be enticed to be outside if I go out too. I’ve gotten as lazy as they; I spend way too much time in front of my computer. Creativity and productivity are definitely lost as I sit here. As parents, many of us are bad examples.

kathy May 14, 2009, 4:22 AM

I’m a mom whose kids never complained of being bored. Neither was I. They were kids a long time ago - back in the 60’s and 70’s. They were “hyper-active.” (The beginning of all this psycho-babble). That’s before A.D.D. and all this current stuff. Part of me despises all this technology and yet, part of me embraces it.

Shani May 20, 2009, 12:43 PM

It makes you wonder what kinds of things kids are losing out on without the creative outlet that play allows. Where will their imagination, problem solving and creativity come from? Very interesting article.

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