Do you have bored kids at home? Being bored is good for kids. Really. Here's why.
“I’m Bored.” What should you do when you hear this?
Is it your job to provide stimulating, fun filled activities for your children? Yes. Is it your job to provide stimulating, fun filled activities for your children ALL the time?
What do you do when you have bored kids?
Imagine it's the school holidays. You have just spent the whole morning with the kids at the swimming pool, or out on your bikes, or at home doing arts and crafts or something else they enjoy. You've had a great time and so have they. Then you hardly seem to have been home for five minutes when you hear those dreaded words, “I'm bored.”
You might try to be helpful and make some suggestions as to what your bored kids could do, but somehow none of them seem to be of any interest. These words might be irritating, causing you to remind your children of all the things you've done with them already today. You might ask why they can't just find something to do themselves? They might stomp off in a strop or loll around being bored or start to get whiny and annoying.
I often ask parents, “If a child is bored, what do they need?” Yes, most people will say they need something to do, they need your attention, stimulation, etc. But if your bored child gets plenty of these things, the need might be different. It might be that they just need to be bored. Children hate doing nothing, unlike adults. I can sit in my garden ‘doing' nothing for ages (as long as it's sunny).
Why being bored is a good thing for kids
Unstructured time is very important. Children who are constantly being entertained by adults (or screens) are not being given the chance to use their imagination and initiative to sort out this problem of being bored. I know it's easy to harp on about the ‘olden days,' but all this constant adult provision of fun, stimulation and activity does seem to be a modern parenting phenomenon.
I can remember spending hours as a child in my own imaginary world. Our backyard became a farm because I was obsessed with animals, and I spent many happy hours out there with very little input from the adults. When I got bored of that I went to play in my parents' wardrobe, pretending it was Narnia. When I was a little older, my imaginings were transferred to pen and paper. I still have some of the poems and stories I created, and I enjoy writing to this day.
It’s hard for parents these days though, and it seems to be the norm that a great deal of children’s entertainment is provided by the adults. If you want to make a change in your family and encourage your children to find their own entertainment, take the first small step. Introduce a regular time when everyone has to find something to do, no screens allowed.
If your kids moan and need a bit of support at first, try helping them to brainstorm a few ideas and stick the list up somewhere so they can go to it when they are stuck. You may have to put up with a certain amount of moaning to start with, but stick with it. You may be surprised at how creative your ‘bored’ child can be when you back off.
Are you inspired to let your kids be bored?