How to handle boredom

Brothers Wong Kai Lei (left) and Kai Yang’s own timetable includes playing football at home in their flat.
Brothers Wong Kai Lei (left) and Kai Yang’s own timetable includes playing football at home in their flat. PHOTO: COURTESY OF SHIRLEY ONG

Get the kids involved: "Resist the urge to be reactive when your child complains of boredom. Engage in age-appropriate conversation with him regarding what he might wish to do. Make a few suggestions and let him choose, so he feels a measure of independence," says Ms Skye Tan, a family life specialist with Focus on the Family Singapore.

Don't over-schedule: Parents can motivate children to plan a daily timetable that emphasises their holistic development, says Ms Jenny Ng, programme development manager (parenting) at Parents College at the Seed Institute. Allot time for outdoor play and to let your child pursue his interests.

Free play: The many benefits of imaginative, open-ended play include freeing children from expectations and pressure to follow rules or produce a finished work, says Mrs Shumei Winstanley, co-founder of parenting group and social enterprise Chapter Zero Singapore.

Lay out materials in an inviting way to encourage creative play, she says. These include recyclables (plastic bottles, juice cartons); art and craft materials (scissors, glitter, crayons); and binding materials (glue, string).

Stick with screen-time limits: Screen-time limits should be consistent as it can be hard to return to a school-time routine if they lapse during a long break, says Ms Ng.

Make the most of your time together:Spend time together building family traditions such as making a family scrapbook, says Ms Tan.

She says: "If your child repeatedly says he is bored, it may not be due to a lack of toys or activities. He may be looking for more time with you instead. Schedule regular time with him and build lasting memories."

Venessa Lee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 09, 2018, with the headline 'How to handle boredom'. Print Edition | Subscribe