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Family Skills
17 November 2023

Deciphering “I’m Bored” – The Kid Code

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“I’m Bored” is Kid Code for “I Need Help”. These moments will happen, and we can turn them into resilience gold.


“I’m Bored” is something we’ve all heard! Even at Risky Kids, when we’ve got parkour, freerunning, ninja, games and challenge, we hear this daily.

  • Boredom is a healthy, unconscious process and can help us be more creative,
  • “I’m bored” often means “I need help”. We need to know why,
  • Letting someone be bored is rarely the worst thing you can do,
  • Overparenting comes in the form of “solving” boredom,
  • By guiding young people through boredom we can build resilience and lifeline strategies,

Boredom & Shower Thoughts

Boredom plays a critical role in the way our minds work, and it isn’t something we should see as bad.

  • Boredom is a form of mental hygiene,
  • “Shower thoughts” are an example of how our unconscious mind kicks in when we’re bored,
  • Boredom can prompt us to be creative,

To start with, boredom isn’t bad. There’s countless studies which show that it’s almost a form of mental hygiene, like brushing your teeth! When we’re bored, our brain is often operating unconsciously, which allows us to relax, decrease our stress and critically our mind resolves thoughts and challenges sort of as a background process.

We all understand this and have experienced it. Like when you have “shower thoughts”, how you often come up with solutions or remember things as soon as you jump into the shower. This is because your brain is in a state of ease.

Similarly, boredom prompts us to get creative, to explore and challenge ourselves and seek stimulation and experience. But we need to teach young people how to read those emotions, and of course what to do when they feel them.

“I’m Bored” really means “I Need Help”

Young people are still figuring out the world, and we’re there to guide them. Help them understand their feelings, like boredom.

  • “I’m bored” means “I need help”,
  • Young people say it when they’ve disengaged,
  • We need to help them understand why it’s happened,

Boredom isn’t bad, and it isn’t something kids need to be saved from. At Risky Kids we’ve learned that most of the time, “I’m Bored” means “I need help”. It’s something kids say when they’ve disengaged from something.

What’s important is understanding the reasons they’ve disengaged. Was it too hard? Too easy? Something unexpected or even upsetting? Kids will disengage for a variety of reasons, and these are the moments for us to help them, not to helicopter in.

How We Can Guide Bored Young People

What’s at stake if we let a young person just “be” bored? And how can we help, without over parenting?

  • Let them be bored and you’ll see them problem solve,
  • Don’t do it for them, guide them to their own solutions,
  • Help them to build understanding and strategies,

If you let a young person be bored, whether it’s at home or participating in a hobby, you’ll often find that they’ll begin to problem solve. They’ll start to get creative, to try and figure out ways to solve their boredom.

That doesn’t mean we can’t be involved either. Our team will engage with young people, asking them some key questions:

  • “Why do you think you’re bored?”
  • “What can you do to challenge yourself more?”
  • “How can you get help if this is too hard?”

By asking these questions, we not only help a young person understand their boredom and feelings, but also teach them strategies to manage their emotions and act on them for the better.

The Harm Of Being A Boredom-Fixer

What’s at stake though if we don’t? We can easily reduce resilience and growth by overparenting, and this is one way to do just that.

  • It’s too easy to hear “I’m bored” and overparent,
  • You don’t have a responsibility to “solve” boredom,
  • Learn to balance these moments and dig deeper each time,

On the other hand though, if every time a young person says that they’re bored we leap in, assume that there’s something wrong with what they’re doing or that it’s somehow not “for them”, we walk a fine line of overparenting, and reducing resilience and growth.

You don’t need to “solve” boredom, and if your kid is bored it doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong. Don’t let anyone (including yourself!) pressure you to be an entertainer for your Risky Kid.

There are times when it’s right to change our approach, to mix it up or move on. But often “boredom” can be healthy, and even more often it can mean something deeper. We can use these opportunities to help a young person grow and understand themselves better.

Doing Less Can Help, But Challenge Is Better!

We can step back and let young people be bored as a start, but even better we can turn these moments into growth and powerful moments.

  • Find these moments to build lifelong resilience and development,
  • Help seeking and finding the “why” is important for resilience,
  • Trying to “solve” resilience creates a burden for you, and slows their growth,

Managing the “I’m bored” moments right takes practice, but it’s well worth it! By helping young people navigate these situations we can build deep resilience, and a lifelong autonomy and sense of self-responsibility.

We can teach them to improve their Help Seeking behaviour by encouraging them to speak to their teachers, leaders or coaches. We can increase their emotional self awareness by challenging “why” they’re bored. We can develop creativity by allowing them to remain bored and learn to entertain themselves or solve their own boredom.

The only sure fire way for boredom to decrease resilience, is if we try to “solve” it every time it appears. This isn’t helpful for them, and it also creates a great burden on caregivers and educators to perpetually entertain young people.


Boredom is part of life! And it’s not a bad one either. It helps our minds to declutter itself, to be creative and also creates opportunities for us to grow.

As parents and educators, we should see these as moments to better understand our young people, not to “save” them.

Richard Williams

Richard Williams

Risky Kids Founder, Director of Programming

Richard Williams is a fitness industry consultant, gym owner, business coach and professional stunt actor with more than a decade of experience in the health and fitness industry. With an education in psychology and criminology, Richard blended life experience as a fitness industry consultant with Spartan Race, gym owner, elite-obstacle racer, ultra-runner and professional stunt actor to create the Risky Kids program.

Richard has a passion for enacting meaningful social change through all avenues of health and wellbeing and believes that obstacles are the way. Some of Richard’s key achievements include:

  • Key consultant/coordinator Spartan Race/Tough Mudder/Extreme Endurance
  • OCR World Championship Finalist –  Team & Solo (2015)
  • OCR World Championship Silver Medallist – Team Endurance (2018)
  • Professional film and television stunt performer for 15 years

Considered one of Australia’s foremost experts in the fields of fitness, wellbeing and behavioural science, Richard is frequently in demand as a guest speaker for relevant government and non-
government bodies and organisations. Speaking engagements centred on the success of the Risky Kids program, philosophy and approach have included:

  • Expert speaker/panellist Sports & Camp; Recreation Victoria and Outdoors Victoria forums
  • Closing expert speaker at the Australian Camps Association National Conference
  • Expert speaker at the National Fitness Expo, FILEX