When Your Child Is Bored at School

Bored“I’m bored!” complains your child. How many parents have heard this phrase – and cringed?

But what if your child comes home every day with this complaint, and has nothing good to say about school (or worse yet, nothing at all to say about school)?

Your first step is to rule out the possibility of misinterpretation, says Sally Yahnke

Walker, Ph.D., a teacher and author of The Survival Guide for Parents of Gifted Kids. She tells the story of one of her kindergartners who always complained that she was bored. Frustrated, Walker finally replied, “I don’t understand. There’s all this stuff to do. What does ‘bored’ mean to you?”

The child responded, “It means having to do what you want me to do rather than what I want to do.”

The Boredom Spectrum

1. The Under-Challenged Child

2. The Overwhelmed Child

3. The Isolated Child

Walker explains that children need to understand that life isn’t always fun, that everyone gets bored occasionally – or dislikes the task at hand – and we all have to do things that we’d rather not. Bob Chase, a teacher for 25 years, two-term president of the National Education Association and the author of The New Public School Parent, agrees. He says that teachers and school psychologists field many complaints from parents that their child is “bored” when, upon further investigation, that doesn’t seem to be true.

Gather Evidence

How can you discover whether or not you’re dealing with a significant problem?

Anne Rambo, Ph.D., a professor of child and family therapy and author of I Know My Child Can Do Better!, says parents need to become detectives with the goal of locating evidence to back up their child’s complaints. She recommends that parents begin by talking to their child and also listening to what she says to others.

It’s a bad sign if parents hear no conversation about what their child is learning in school, or about the teachers, Rambo says. “Then you know there’s not much of a relationship with a teacher, and no interest there.”

Excessive conversation about the social structure at school could also be an indication that your child is not very involved in her classes.

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