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Why are my kids bored? They have so many toys!

“I’m bored” is the bane of every parent- especially when you look around and see toys everywhere. Here we look at 2 reasons why your kids are bored and what you can do about it.

Anxiety workbook for kids

“I’m bored.”  “There’s nothing to play with.”  These remarks are like nails on a chalkboard for parents who look around a toy-strewn house wondering if they should make an appointment with an optometrist.  Before you blow your top or your wallet on a new pair of glasses, let’s take a look at two reasons why your children may claim to be the kings and queens of Boredom Land.

Possible Reason #1 – They have too many toys

Yes, you read that correctly.  The reason your children may be claiming to be bored is because they have too many toys, not too few.  Children live in a sensory rich world.  Things that recede into the background of our field of vision, are front and center in their eyes.  Imagine if you traveled to a new country with a completely different landscape, language and culture.  Your brain would have to kick it up a notch for you to take in all that is around you.  It is a lot of work.  That is why we are often tired after a vacation to new and interesting places- we have given our brains a workout.  Your child is living in a world that is full of new sensory and experiential information every day.  Too many toys, clutter and general disorganization can contribute to a system overload and resulting shutdown.  If we think their claim of boredom is an accurate description to their situation, we may purchase more toys, in effect contributing to the underlying problem.

Solution:  Purge, donate, throw out, organize, put away.  All of these verbs will help you become a “boredom buster.”  Look with a new and critical eye at the toys you have.  What have they outgrown?  What is broken beyond repair?  What was a mistake to buy in the first place?  If they don’t play with it every day, box it up and put it away.  Shelving in a basement or a closet makes a great staging area.  Every day or every other day, bring out 1-2 toys (or set of toys) to the playing area of your home.  Watch as you see them rediscover a whole “new” set of toys.

Possible Reason #2 – They have “one-note” toys

As the sheer number of manufactured toys increases, the amount of creativity needed to play with them seems to have decreased.  Look around at the toys in your house.  Do they have only one use?  Can your child use his or her imagination to create a different dimension to the toy?  Does the toy dictate the type of play or does the child?  As children accumulate more and more toys that tell them what to do in their play time, their ability to use imagination, creativity and leadership in their own play is hampered.   

The Solution:  Evaluate the toys in your home.  Do you have any toys that encourage imagination and exploration?  Do most of their playthings require batteries and an inch thick instructional manual?  Here are some suggestions for alternatives:  kitchen sets, doctor kits, dress up clothes, flashlights, blankets (for forts!), blocks, matchbox cars, arts and craft supplies, empty cardboard boxes of all sizes, and balloons (for indoor volleyball or catch).  Your child may need some help getting started.  Like an old motor that hasn’t been started in a while, you may need to give their creativity a few cranks before it can start on the first pull.  Don’t give up.  Once you get them running, they will be off in a world of their own.

If you are looking for more ideas, below are two printables filled with fun things your kids can do they next time you hear, ‘I’m bored!”

Things I can do for fun (older kids)

Things I can do for fun (younger kids)

Image by DarkmoonArt_de from Pixabay
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for treatment from a qualified mental health professional. Cornerstones for Parents is not liable for any advice, tips, techniques, and recommendations the reader chooses to implement.

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About Laura

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura is a licensed clinical social worker who offers individual therapy to women and moms in Connecticut. She is the author of More Than a Conqueror, A Christian Kid's Guide to Winning the War on Worry. Cornerstones for Parents is the place she combines some of the things she is most passionate about: God's word, parenting and mental health.

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