Over the four-day weekend, did any of your kids tell you they were bored? Possibly not as there are a number of activities surrounding Chinese New Year that keep us busy. However, during the longer breaks from school most parents struggle with the fact that their children become bored.
Interestingly enough, the World Economic Forum is saying that if you want to be a good parent let your children be bored? What? That does not seem to make a lot of sense. So many of us parents are involved in filling up our children’s time from sun up to sun down with various activities. The activities themselves are not the problem, and many if not most are positive in different ways.
The problem is if we never let children be bored we are taking away the opportunity for some very important life skills to develop when children face boredom. Researchers and child psychologists are now saying that boredom provides and even forces an inner quiet that helps younger children with self-awareness. Figuring out what to do when they are bored develops creativity, resourcefulness, and perseverance (as long as mom and dad handle it well).
So what do you do as a parent if your child is bored?
- First and foremost, do not rush in with solutions. Let them try to solve the issue of boredom themselves. Make it their responsibility to solve the problem not you.
- Do not provide them with more screen time or easy entertainment. TV, DVD’s, video games, the internet all solve the boredom problem but do not push them to be imaginative and actually diminish their ability to be creative. They may have solved the problem of boredom, and your problem of hearing them whine about it, but do not let them solve it with a screen.
- Give them space. Allow them to try and solve it on their own by not being involved in the process. Having stuff around that can help them fill their time can help (Legos, board games, etc.) but do not be the one looking for and finding the stuff to solve the problem. If they ask for help (building a fort, fixing their bike, baking, etc.), feel free to be a part of helping but not in coming up with the solution to the boredom.
- If they really cannot solve it on their own, you can prompt them with a challenge of some sort (“Hey, can you build me a spaceship out of that box?”) that can help them get going, but then get out of their way and let them figure out how to accomplish it.
So the next time your child (even your teenager) whines to you about being bored, do not take it as a cue to solve it, don’t let them be a screen junkie, get out of their way, and smile because you are actually being a good parent when you do all of this :-)