Discipline Phrase: “Just Sit and Be Bored”

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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. 


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


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)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 šŸ™‚


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Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book,Ā The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at Babywise.life, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on theĀ AboutĀ page. Follow her onĀ Facebook,Ā Pinterest, andĀ InstagramĀ for more tips and helps.

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  1. Laura Cherry
    February 4, 2011 / 8:38 PM

    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. Mrs_Thielke
    February 5, 2011 / 2:12 AM

    So perfect. I watch a 3 year old, and this would definitely work!! Thanks!!

  3. Janice
    February 5, 2011 / 4:38 AM

    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!

  4. elle
    February 8, 2011 / 1:29 AM

    mine did, at 3 1/2 yo, 'im bored' is her fav.

  5. Plowmanators
    February 18, 2011 / 11:19 PM

    You are all welcome!

  6. Unknown
    August 26, 2011 / 10:04 PM

    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!

  7. Plowmanators
    September 15, 2011 / 4:49 AM

    See the label "whining". The basics are don't give in to whining, be patient, remind to not whine.

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