When did letting our children be bored become a measure of our ability as a parent?
I am amazed by our ability to overschedule our children in order to avoid the dreaded “boredom”. Is it any wonder that with no ballet, footy training, swimming lessons and art classes the words “I’m bored” are repeated during the holidays through households all over our wide brown land?
It made me think about the cost to parent of always feeling the need to entertain their children for all waking hours of the holidays. I see many parents before and during the holidays get themselves in a lather with worry about what they are going to do with the kids during the holidays. Not only does that increase stress levels but then leads parents to dutifully planning and implementing a jam-packed holidays with interesting and hopefully engaging activities. Then after everyone is ferried to and fro from all the amusements, fun zones, play dates these same parents stay up till the wee small hours to get everything done that did not during the day. No wonder parents are exhausted!
Recent research came up with the following way to describe boredom.
“A bored person doesn't just have nothing to do. He or she wants to be stimulated, but is unable, for whatever reason, to connect with his or her environment — a state Eastwood describes as an "unengaged mind" [i](Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2012)
These two words, unengaged mind need to ring alarm bells for us all, parents and teachers. If we are always filling our children’s life up with activities our children are at risk of reaching adult hood with an unengaged mind – not a great asset for future success.
Therefore, as parents we need to change our perspective to boredom and embrace it. Children being given the opportunity to be bored is good for them for reasons including:
Sparking their creativity – research has found we are more creative when we are bored
Forcing them to play with everything that they have – (remember those Christmas presents?)
Boredom helps children motivate themselves – which is a VERY important life skill.
It’s not easy to do this. You will get push back but if you stick to your guns you may just find there are benefits for you and your child.
So how do you do it?
Consider scheduling some BOREDOM BUSTER time for your children. This may be easier if you give yourself some time during the day and make sure your children know you are not to be disturbed. Read a book, clean the sock draw – ANYTHING just to get your kids used to you not entertaining them all the time.
Prepare your children – get your children to create a Things to do when I am bored chart or jar. Help them come up with a list of things they could do on their own or without you.
Prepare activities – you may need to make sure that it’s easy to do the things on the list. E.g. Put the games that they were given for Christmas where they can be easily accessed or set up a craft or art box and fill it with bits and pieces, they can do without you. A word of warning, it may be easy to fill this time with screen time but that is just a quick fix.
Coach your children when they next come to you and say, “I’m bored.” By having a chart all you need to do is coach them to choose an idea. Hopefully as your children get the hang of this they won’t need you to help them.
Make sure you notice and acknowledge your child’s ability to entertain themselves. This will encourage more future behaviour.
Like Strength Heroes on our Facebookand Instagram as we share some of our favourite Boredom Buster activities this holidays.
Our holiday workshops are also a great way to awaken your child’s creative. All our workshops come with a DOSE of resilience and we organise and clean up all the mess.
There are a few spots left for our two-day Mistake Maker course on the 14th and 15th of January. Our TRY, a Very Arty Day is being run over 6 days and we also have our NEW Be an Architect for a Day for children aged 8 – 12. Our workshop program is from 14th – 23 of January at The Artspace Collective in Scarborough and our new venue The Art Garage in Mt Hawthorn. Visit our booking page here.
[i] Reference: Never a Dull Moment - https://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/07-08/dull-moment.aspx