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Why Boredom May Not Be So Bad

Accept the fact that creative activity is messier than watching TV. Be proud of a kid who wants to test the chemical interactions of dirt, dead flies and chocolate pudding, but set some boundaries so that you don't go crazy ("You can do your experiments in the backyard and the kitchen, but the living room is out of bounds because I just cleaned up in there.")

Don't beat yourself up if you're a working parent and you need to have your child in camp or other programs for much of the summer. Instead of feeling guilty, look for programs that recognize the importance of choice and unstructured time. Ask the director lots of questions: can kids choose their own activities? Do they have free time to goof around or read at night in the bunk before bedtime?

Remember that children, like adults, need time alone. When Kathy W.'s oldest son Jonathan complained of boredom, she allowed him to take refuge from his younger brothers in her study. He used the time to write a short story.

Understand and respect children's need for structure. Kids who live highly regimented lives from September to June will likely struggle with the open-ended ness of a summer day. Rather than judge feelings of anxiousness about the absence of a schedule ("You're bright enough, you should be able to think of something to do, especially with all those toys!") encourage them to feel resourceful and join you in planning at least some of the day's activities.

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