The Importance of Recognizing Hunger vs. Boredom in Young Children #greatstarts

Knowing to recognize hunger versus boredom is a skill that all children must learn at some point but with the younger ones, the parents need to be able to recognize for them. Most kids have different moods during different times of the day but do you know what they mean? Sometimes, a child can be tired, hungry or just plain bored, but we, as parents, need to learn to distinguish them to help prevent bad attitudes and melt-downs. It’s also important to teach them to ask themselves these questions, so that they can learn to figure it all out themselves as they grow.


For my own kids, they get terribly cranky when hungry or bored but I don’t want to just shove snacks at them all day, so here are a few steps I go through to figure out what they need..

  • Give them something to do. A craft or chore is the best way to find out if my boys are bored or have low blood sugar. If they just need something to keep their attention, any activity I put in front of them will be taken and they will immediately be in better moods.
  • If that does not work and they are still feisty and in poor moods, I will give them a small, healthy snack. Snack size will depend on time of day. I always make sure not to give a filling snack right before dinner because I have enough trouble getting my boys to eat their dinner as it it.. If it’s an hour till dinner and they are starving (which happens quite often), I let them have a few crackers or maybe a cheese stick. That way, it just takes the edge off, without filling up their bellies too long to interfere with dinnertime.

The type of snack will also affect their behavior for a couple hours afterwards, so I am always extra careful what types of snacks I give at different times of the day.. I try to give nutrient-rich snacks, like cheese, fruits, veggies and such, but a lot of the time, the boys want something ‘snacky’ like crackers or granola bars. That’s totally fine with me, I just make sure to purchase smart choices at the store for my boys to choose from and I feel comfortable letting them have some crunchy snacks during the day!

Kellogg's Snacks 4

Some of my favorite snacks are from Kellogg’s because they are not only delicious and good for the whole family, they are also filling and have good ingredients! If my boys are hungry, I love being able to give them a snack or two from my Kellogg’s collection and know they are ingesting something yummy and also mommy-approved!

Kellogg's Snacks 2

What about you? Can you tell the difference in your own kids, whether they are acting out because of hunger, boredom or something else? 

Make sure you stay tuned this month for four more posts on And Then There Were 5..., featuring the amazing Kellogg's Tips For a Great Start! I know most of you readers were wanting help for getting your families off to a great start in the morning so you definitely don't want to miss them, that's for sure! I think we can all learn a little something from the great tips from the Kellogg's Team! 🙂

 Kellogg’s® believes that From Great Starts Come Great Things®. So we’re helping Moms start every day with a tip from the top athletes of Team Kellogg’s™ and Team USA dietitians. The thirty days leading up to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games will each feature fun pieces of advice to help families fuel just like the athletes of Team Kellogg’s. To see all 30 tips, visit

*Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Kellogg’s via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Kellogg’s.*


  1. This is something I really had to work on myself. I was notorious for snacking when I was bored or because of where I was at. I try to set a good example for my son, now. 🙂

  2. I definitely snack when I’m bored. Thankfully, so far, my kids seem to only eat when they’re hungry. But, they’re still young and I’m sure this is something we’ll have to talk about soon! Good tips on the snacks!

  3. It’s so important to stop and ask yourself if you are truly hungry or just bored!

  4. This is something I have trouble with. I snack far too often when I’m bored. I’ve been trying to drink water instead!

  5. I usually try water first and then next resort to a snack. However with the kids there’s usually a morning and afternoon snack anyhow!

  6. Roberta Wiley says:

    We have to take snack to next baseball game. If a game finishes around lunch, the snack is often pizza. Our game will finish at 10.30 so I’m thinking a bag of different snacks, but what? My choices (healthy) didn’t go over well with DS’s soccer team last season. Thanks for suggestions – you’ll make my shopping much easier as I’ll get things over next 2 weeks.

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