Have you ever heard the words, “I’m bored,” or “There’s nothing to do.” from a child or teenager?
Why is that?
Being bored is a good indicator that a child has been entertained too much and most usually from the following: videos, television, video games or activities away from home. When you’re constantly being entertained in the passive way that videos, t.v. and video games do, your creative side suffers. You are unable or hampered in thinking of activities that appeal beyond more of the same. We like being entertained and don’t want the work of doing it ourselves. Activities away from home can also be detrimental to our children’s creative thinking if they aren’t the right kinds of activities and besides kids need downtime. They need quiet, simple days and times of just being.
If a child is complaining of being bored it’s likely because they feel they deserve something more and they want someone else to take on the responsibility of breaking their boredom.
But is that really necessary?
What if we allowed our children to be bored? What might happen?
In his book Home Built Discipline the late Dr Raymond Moore writes,
“Children are over-toyed, over-entertained, and over-amused at home, at school, and wherever they go. Give your children a chance to develop concentration and coordination as well as creativity in play, and you will discover a new spirit in them.”
Children need to learn to just be. I love what Just Enough, and Nothing More says in their post titled, “Why Do Kids Get Bored.”
“I recently read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s a travelogue of how she went around the world looking for herself. As part of her journey, she spends some time in Bali, and she talks about the kids there, who sit for hours waiting to see a doctor, playing with their fingers and toes, without so much as a peep about how long they will be sitting there. She talks about a child who plays with a piece of blue tile, imagining it’s part of a grand kitchen, and she’s preparing a meal for her friends.
Being bored is not imaginable to a child who has a simple life. Being bored for us, is the inability to accept simplicity. Our children, growing up in a complex, hyper-stimulating world, are conditioned to expect this. And when it’s not there, it creates anxiety. Translation, they get bored.”
If your child comes to you and says he’s bored, give him a few suggestions and if none of those appeal then say, “I’m sorry, it sounds like you’ll have to think of something yourself.”
Your child’s response might be telling.
Since my youngest daughter always has her brother to play with she’s not quite sure how to occupy herself when he’s gone and will frequently complain that there’s nothing to do since he’s not there. While I love that they are the best of playmates, I also want her to learn to be content, happy when he’s not around. I want her to enjoy the present.
If we don’t want our children to be caught up in the frenziedness of most of society we need to let them just be. Let them learn to make their own fun, to explore and create, to use their imaginations.
As a parent it is not your responsibility to entertain the child.
A child can learn to be content wherever he is. Sure there will be some things that are more fun or appealing to him but he can also learn to appreciate where he’s at right now and if he/she is able to do that, they will never be bored again.
So next time your child says he’s bored, maybe give him/her a few suggestions like:
Make something out of wood, Lego’s, sewing project
Cook or bake
Draw or Paint
Read a book
This is not the time to give them passive entertainment such as a video, television or video games.
If your few and simple suggestions do not meet with their approval, then let them be bored. No one has ever died from it and yet many have benefited from it. This is an opportunity for out of their boredom they will learn to entertain themselves. Creativity will have a chance to lift it’s head and show the child more of the world than he thought was there.
A thought. If a child comes from a troubled home, it may not be wise to leave them alone… “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” This is true. This child probably needs one-on-one time with you, time spent building or putting things together, working in the house or yard together, reading together and then in slow increments you could let them do things on their own but I would highly discourage the passive entertainments mentioned above. (videos, television, video games) An educational video might be okay once in a while but let it be infrequent and not the norm. Television, with all it’s commercials, is really not a good thing to sit your child in front of at any time.
While you do want your children to learn to entertain themselves, there’s always the balance.
Parents do need to be involved with their kids, to do things with them. Don’t neglect this side of the equation. But it can be simple and it doesn’t even have to involve leaving the house. Simplicity in what we do is okay.
The heart at rest sees a feast in everything. –Proverb
These questions might be a good jumping off point if your child should say, “I’m, Bored!”
Filed under: Raising Children
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