How To Respond When Your Child Says “I’m Bored!”

Get a simple phrase to use when your child complains about being bored. This will get your child problem-solving independently.

Bored child on the couch

As your child gets older, you will start to hear questions like this:

“What can I do now, Mom?”

“I’m bored!”

“There is nothing to do!”


“That doesn’t sound fun!”

Now, naturally, if you stick to having a daily routine then this really won’t happen that often, but it still will happen.

As your child gets older, you start to allow more freedom, especially at times of day for free play. This is a great chance for the child to practice decision-making skills. 

It is also a great opportunity for your child to put into practice the self-entertainment skills and creativity learned during Independent Playtime.

How to Respond to “I’m Bored!”

I don’t mind genuine questions of what the child can do next. The questions I mind are the whining ones.

>>>Read: How to Deal with a Whining Child

So my response is nonchalant and without emotion and I say,

“Just sit and be bored.”

The response to that is always something to the effect of, “I don’t want to do that! That doesn’t sound fun!”

To which I reply “Oh!” with a bit of surprise in my voice. Then I add, “Well, what would you like to do then?” 

My goal is to teach the child that

  • A) whining doesn’t get you anywhere productive and
  • B) independent problem-solving skills

It works like a charm.

So what age should you expect to encounter this? Probably somewhere around 4 or older. Kaitlyn (nearly four) still hasn’t said an “I’m bored phrase.” Some children will pop these out much earlier, though, so always be ready 🙂

The Power of a “Phrase”

I love using canned phrases to respond to common issues that come up. There are many benefits to using them. One is your child knows exactly what to expect with that response.

Another is it prevents you from having to reinvent the wheel in parenting. You have thought ahead of time and decided what the response would be in those situations and you know just what to say.

It helps you stick to your parenting philosophy and goals.

It also helps you avoid getting emotional, exasperated, and upset. You have your phrase and your expectations set.

>>>Read: 7 Phrases To Help You Avoid Losing Your Temper as a Parent

Using This Phrase Requires Some Work Ahead of Time

You can’t just one day decide to say this phrase to your child and expect magic from it.

You aren’t just hanging your child up to dry.

You want to have established activities that are acceptable already. You want to have worked with your child in life to learn the skills to self-entertain and be creative.

Your Child Won’t Always Thank You

This phrase works, but you have to give it the chance to work. You can’t say it, then jump in and fix your child’s problems for them.

You have to be okay with letting them sit in their “bored” state until they figure something out.

You have to follow through.

It is okay for your child to be bored. It is even good for your child to be bored. This is when your child’s creativity will blossom and shine. Let it happen.


As you are consistent with your use of this phrase, your child will learn to find ways to spend her time without whining to you about it. Consistency and follow-through are the keys to the success of this.

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7 thoughts on “How To Respond When Your Child Says “I’m Bored!””

  1. Love this one. I always dread the day the phrase "I'm bored" leaves their lips for the first time. We live on a farm, with plenty of room to run and many adventures to plan, and STILL it happens like clockwork. ;P This is a great response. Thank you, as always, for your innate ability to offer the PERFECT solution!

  2. My mom had a variation on this, but it works better when they're older. She always responded, "Boredom is a state of mind." It's an interesting response, and it's so true!

  3. Hi! Thank you so much for your awesome blog! I am wondering if you have any helpful tips for teaching a younger child not to whine? My little guy just turned one, and his response to everything is a whine. He is very vocal, and has several signs, and will happily "use his words" once I remind him, but that hasn't stopped the whining from happening in the first place. He will use his words, then whine again. Now he will actually whine while signing 'please'. LOL. At least he is polite about it….Thanks!


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