What does that mean for you when Hayley comes up to you and whines, “I’m bored.” It means that you wish her well and continue on with your day.
Boredom is not terminal. Somehow we have come to believe that it is our job to ensure that our children are constantly entertained, so if they are bored, we need to help them. What do we think will happen if we don’t help them with this dilemma?
Boredom is a gift and one we should give the kids regularly, not just during school holidays. Children who are scheduled for most of their day miss the chance of figuring out what they want to do. They often miss out on creative thinking because they are following a series of pre-set plans from wake-up to bedtime.
Boredom can become free time and can be the best moments of a child’s day. I know you hate to see them unhappy or have to listen to their whining or watch them simply wasting time. But, for them, it’s all part of growing up and finding out who they are. Given the choice of everything, what do they really want to do with their time?
Let’s take a look at the idea of wasting time. Are they wasting time or are they learning how to consider their wishes, how to plan their time, how to manage their activities? Are they using the time to dream? Are they finding themselves considering different ideas and activities?
Just think, one day in the future they may take a break from their hectic lives, allow their minds to simply roam and come up with a cure for cancer.
Okay, it’s a bit over the top, but it could happen.
Another way you can tackle Hayley when she’s bored is to involve her in whatever you are doing. You can cook together, fold laundry or garden. It’s a great time to simple be with her and chat.
Be careful not to let all the structured time cut into the creative time. Let’s say your kids have taken blankets out to the deck and created a town. They have included all their stuffed toys, their little cars and truck and who knows what else. Let the project continue.
Dealing with boredom is actually simple. First you need to accept that your child’s boredom may be annoying but is not your problem. Then you need to believe that from boredom can come many of life’s lessons such as problem-solving, dreaming, planning on your own, trying out new activities. In other words, taking responsibility for your time.
Try it yourself. Maybe you are also over-scheduled. Take some time to just be or as they say, to stop and smell the roses.
Kathy Lynn is a parenting expert and Canada’s leading speaker on parenting issues. She has helped thousands of parents to regain some order in their lives. You can reach her at www. parentingtoday.ca