The Bored Jar Gets Kids to Stop Whining!

by | Mar 14, 2020 | Deployment Survival, Military Kids, Resources | 0 comments

How to get your kids to stop whining: Make a ‘Bored Jar’

Today’s great idea is brought to you by whining children. I call it the Bored Jar. The thought had been rolling around in my mind for a while, and was one of the first things I did when when my husband deployed overseas. I was home alone with four children, and I needed a way to get the kids to stop whining.

I’m a pretty hands-on mom. I spend a lot of time reading to my kids, playing games with them, helping them with things. Most of the time that’s great. The downside is that my kids have become used to me always giving them ideas or telling them what to do. During the winter months, they started spending more time whining that they were bored and there was nothing to do. During summer vacation, they expect me to have new, creative concepts every day. And when I’m the only parent home for many months during a deployment, I need a sanity check. I decided it’s not my job to entertain them. They need to learn to be creative, have initiative, and come up with their own ideas. So, I made a Bored Jar.

What is the Bored Jar? Ours is just a coffee container with a list taped to the outside. I had a bunch of old clothespins with letters on them (we used them for preschoolers learning to read). You could also use popsicle sticks or cards, whatever is convenient.

when kids are bored, stop the whining with a Bored Jar

How do we use the Bored Jar?

The project helps in two ways. First, anytime someone says ‘I’m bored!’ they have to pick from the jar. Then they MUST do whatever they picked. There’s a mixture of play ideas and chores, so this is a mild punishment. The kids stopped whining and saying the word ‘Bored’ within just a few weeks!

The second way is more long-term. When a kid has some down time and is starting to feel restless, they can look at the list of ideas on the outside of the jar, and voluntarily choose something to do. This is a great way for them to brainstorm their options, come up with ideas, and entertain themselves–all without me getting involved! It has helped them be more independent and have initiative, which is a huge bonus to me during deployment.

What are our Bored Jar ideas?

I asked my oldest (age 7) to help me make the list. My criteria was half chores, half play, and it had to be something that was ALWAYS available and could be completed by the kids aged 4, 6, and 7, which is especially important since I sometimes work from home with the kids. Some of our ideas matched the letters, but not all:

A: Art Project
B: Bedroom cleanup, 15 minutes
C: Color a Picture
D: Dress-up costume
E: Encourage someone with a card
F: Fold Laundry
G: Go make a story
H: Help Mom with a chore
I: I put away my laundry
J: Journal or Homework
K: Play sports in backyard
L: Legos
M: Math practice
N: Ride scooter or bike
O: Listen to Music
P: Practice Piano
Q: Sweep dining room
R: Read a Book
S: Sidewalk chalk
T: Trampoline Time
U: Unload the dishwasher
V: Play with the baby
W: Wipe off the table
X: Clean up the living room
Y: Play a board game
Z: Do a puzzle

So that’s our Bored Jar. It worked great over spring break! Do you have something similar at your house? Any ideas you would add to the list?

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