Most children today find it very difficult to be bored. There constantly needs to be something happening. We all really need to stop keeping our children entertained.
It’s truly not dangerous for them to be bored sometimes.
Victoria Prooday writes,
“Through endless fun, we have created an artificial fun world for our children. There are no dull moments. The moment it becomes quiet, we run to entertain them again, because otherwise, we feel that we are not doing our parenting duty. We live in two separate worlds. They have their “fun“ world, and we have our “work” world. Why aren’t children helping us in the kitchen or with laundry? Why don’t they tidy up their toys? This is basic monotonous work that trains the brain to be workable and function under “boredom,” which is the same “muscle” that is required to be eventually teachable at school. When they come to school and it is time for handwriting their answer is “I can’t. It is too hard. Too boring.” Why? Because the workable “muscle” is not getting trained through endless fun. It gets trained through work.”
There are definite benefits to boredom.
As Dr. Adam Phillips wrote “The capacity to be bored can be a developmental achievement for the child.”
Boredom is a chance to contemplate life, rather than rushing through it.
“How often, in fact, the child’s boredom is met by that most perplexing form of disapproval, the adult’s wish to distract him – as though the adults have decided that the child’s life must be, or be seen to be, endlessly interesting. It is one of the most oppressive demands of adults that the child should be busy, rather than take time to find what truly interests him. Boredom is integral to the process of taking one’s time.” ~Adam Phillips
I believe that spoiling children with constant things to do has just the opposite effect that parents hope for.
Boredom and Imagination
I believe there is a strong connection between boredom and imagination. Researchers believe that being bored can lead to some of our most original thoughts.
When people daydream and they’re not thinking about what’s going on around them, they’re more likely to think about the future, researchers found. People most frequently plan and anticipate their future goals which is a form of goal setting (a very good thing)!
I could never write this page if all I didn’t daydream and begin to formulate the ideas that come to mind.
What If There Are Complaints Of Boredom?
At the the start of any free period (summer or break), parents should sit down with their children—at least those above the age of four—and write down a collective list of everything their kids might enjoy doing during their break. These can be basic activities such as a special game, making cookies, building a fort, producing a play of a story they know, playing cards, reading a book, holding a treasure hunt, practicing photography or going for a hike or bike ride.
Then, if your child comes to you during that time complaining of boredom, tell them to go and look at the list. It puts the responsibility on them to say, ‘This is what I’d like to do’.
While there’s a good chance children might mope around for a while and be bored, it’s important to realize that this isn’t wasted time.
Children need to learn how to be bored in order to motivate themselves to get things done. Being bored sometimes is a way to make children self-reliant, fully-functioning members of the home and society.
Being Bored Best Learned When Young
- Teach your young children that “boredom” is a normal state of human emotions. Don’t take the responsibility of constantly entertaining your kids, as they need to learn to self-regulate through boredom.
- Bring calmness into their lives by listening to calm music, sitting around a fireplace, having a calming bath, reading a book, drawing, or playing board games.
- Practice the art of noticing! Be people watchers without being critical.
- Make family traditions of playing table and card games. Also read-alouds
- Make a conscious effort to train your child’s delayed gratification skills. Train his/her ability to just sit and wait.
- Teach your child to sit at a table until everyone finishes eating. Limit snacking between meals.
- Limit your child’s access to technology. In addition, unplug from your phone and share quality time with your child.
- Offer your child opportunities to spend time outdoors, running, playing with siblings especially in green space.
- Provide regular opportunities for physical activity such as speed walking, biking, hiking.
- Offer plenty of sleep in technology free bedrooms.
- Train your child’s ability to complete monotonous work, such as helping with cooking, setting a table, making his/her bed, or folding clothes.
Philosopher Bertrand Russell’s observations about the essential quality of our capacity for boredom seems just as apt today as ever:
“A life too full of excitement is an exhausting life; continually stronger stimuli are needed to give the thrill that has come to be thought an essential part of pleasure.”
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Thanks for reading!