What To Do When Your Child Says "I'm Bored!"
“Boredom leads to creativity “Imagination is more important than Knowledge ” - Albert Einstein
And you know what, the cure for Boredom is curiosity! Dr.Vanessa Lapointe, an author, parenting expert, and registered psychologist, has to say “Children need to sit in their own boredom for the world to become quiet enough that they can hear themselves. It is only when we are surrounded by nothing that something comes alive on the inside.”
Are our kids getting Bored? Are we allowing boredom to children?
Summers are the best time, times, when we are surrounded by so many “Summer Camps”, to structure the time of our children from morning till evenings. And so does it goes once the schools reopens. School time, homework, time to land for pre decided sports, numerous activities. Amongst all this schedule, somewhere and somehow, our kids have forgotten how to ignite their creativity when they actually do “Nothing”. Ya, I do mean by saying “doing nothing”, atleast for few hours in a day.
Well, this doesn’t means that we are asking them to stay quiet and sit on the chair for couple of hours, but here I mean that we need to leave them on their own to get entertained. This is when most of the kids say “I’m getting bored mama, can I watch my favourite video or play video game or watch my cartoon?”. And yes most of us succumb to the request way too quickly. If not this, we as parents, feel guilty, and try to bring upon many new additions in our kids toys portfolio or plan another class for them so that kids remain occupied throughout.
Have you ever thought, if you are filling up your child’s every small spare time, the child will never learn to do this himself. Children can never learn to entertain themselves if we are always intervening them and their schedules. Believe me, next time your child says, I’m bored, I need something. Hold on the temptation to do something, smile and ask your child to entertain themselves. You’ll see a sad face for next few minutes, but what after that? You’ll be pleased to see your child getting engaged in something they like, they’ll work basis their imaginations, they’ll go creative in a minimalistic way. And this is why we want a child to be bored daily, to welcome his innate strengths and give and answer to their own curiosity.
What I saw when my son used to get bored?
When I see my 3.5 year old has nothing to do, I love that moment. He does merry-go-round around me but soon after I find him asking so many things which were there in his mind. He tries to do something innovative with the small toy basket he has. One day, he lined up cushions and started making a bridge to allow his car to run on it. Good Imagination and Fun! Other day, he started looking at the fridge magnets and was curious to know about magnetism. See, boredom got him a new concept and he was immensely happy. Then another day, he pulled out the coin box, started sorting and made a tower out of it.
What made me happy was, his creativity, self thoughts and learning of new concepts with these imaginations, all driven by his own.
Sports, Drama, drawing, music, all these structured activities need to be a part of a child’s life, as they help immensely in cognitive, social, emotional development. But what we need to include is a “Boredom time” daily and atleast one day of unstructured life in a week. Like us, children also need time to connect with themselves. They need to cut from the outside world, the pre scheduled activities, to discover what they “truly like”, to explore their innate creativity, to “DREAM” and to know how to entertain themselves. And they can do all this only when they precisely have nothing to do.
Bertrand Russell, a philosopher, who wrote a book “The Conquest of Happiness”, has a chapter focussing on values of Boredom, wherein he wrote –
“A child develops best when, like a young plant, he is left undisturbed in the same soil. Too much travel, too much variety of impressions, are not good for the young, and cause them as they grow up to become incapable of enduring fruitful monotony.”
Can we all think, when we were small, there were no gadgets and we had plenty of time when we got bored. I developed a special fascination out of boredom to start penning something, be it my thoughts or stories, or anything that intrigued me in a day. And this developed my writing skills, which I thank today, is credited to boredom. I started exploring so many books out of boredom and got them issued from school library to read at home. I developed a special love for thrill and fictional novels, again, credit to boredom.
Now you realize the power? While succumbing to screen time or pushing ourselves again to entertain children, this time should be left for stimulating the imagination of a child. Hug your child, give him all the love and warmth he needs out of you and then with that extra dose of love, ask them to work out something what they really love. If kids are very much used to structured time, they might have problems initially, so you can just spark the idea and then leave things up to their imaginations.
When our minds are bored, the neurons are triggered, it automatically enters into the “thinking” and “dreaming” mode. And this time the dreams are all about what “you” like, which sparks the real creativity. So, it’s absolutely okay for a child to be bored, don’t ever have that guilt as a parent. Let that complaint turn into an essential daily life skill.
How is boredom beneficial for kids?
1. Boredom encourages Creativity:
When kids are allowed to get bored happily, they are into the trap to amuse and entertain themselves. It is then that they take the initiative, experience a calm mind, think and engage in interesting tasks of their own. I’ve seen my son, inventing a game out of every single item in my house, sometimes, I cannot even imagine. Try yourself and you’ll get to know! Boredom allows a child to discover what he/she likes without any parental or other external influence.
2. Boredom enhances a child’s self confidence and motivation:
When kids get bored and we don’t give them any ideas for few minutes, they come up with their own things. And when they manage to do something on their own successfully, it builds their confidence and motivates them. It’s a lovely feeling of accomplishment as they don’t have to lean on someone to get entertained.
3. Boredom develops Resilience:
Resilience is something, kids need to learn more in this century. When they imagine and create something new, they will experience failures, they will amend the ways and try to deal with it themselves. They will not have the fear of failure here and this feeling helps to build resilience and grit in a child.
4. Boredom nurtures problem solving skills:
So, now what that they are being bored? Mama has refused to entertain. They need to scratch their heads and solve the problems themselves. With new things in the minds to act upon, there will be many failures. But again, its upto them to clear up those problems and satisfy the inner self. And, all this leads to the beautiful development of problem solving in your child. Researches have proved that “allowing the minds to wander, rather than being focussed always, is very important for mental health”.
How to handle a bored child?
If your child needs a trigger, make a “Boredom Box”, with your child. Take a pen and paper chits and ask your child to jot down the activities he would like to do apart from screen time. It can vary from playing outdoor, to chatting with a neighbour, to learning how to bake with mama, play with cars, scribble, cutting, reading a book or anything. These can start as a trigger points and then you’ll be happy to see how the boredom progressed your child into a creative one.
Don’t mind the mess, it can be cleared as a group effort, involving kids once they are done.
Boredom is the path to creativity and self interest, don’t cut that out of your child’s life! It’s beautiful to see a quiet mind turning into something innovative and full of energy to let you know what they did. It’s really beautiful. Allow that occasional boredom to set in and mama’s have more of free time for yourself too!
Let’s discuss, what have your experiences been when it comes to boredom? How have you tackled your child’s day and week? Have you left scope of unstructured play in the day’s activities? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
Till then, be happy being bored.
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