I am thrilled to share with you this guest post from Zara Lewis!
We’ve all been there: our kid comes to us, pulls us by the sleeve and looks us with the saddest puppy eyes saying – Mom, I’m bored. This triggers an inner parent alarm and urges the most of us to start entertaining our little ones: from coming up with different games and activities to literally amusing them with making faces or participating in playtime. The St. Louis Dad blog has some great ideas of things you can do with your kids but this should be a last resort after first giving them the opportunity to figure out what to do themselves. You risk raising spoiled kids that are used to instant gratification if you cater to these requests, and you are robbing them of the incredible benefits of boredom.
Understand the positive sides of boredom
Boredom is one of the rare states that make us fully focus on ourselves. Studies have shown it can also boost our creativity – a key skill for problem-solving in the future life of your child. Having unstructured time is essential for children’s healthy development. It helps them strengthen their creative thinking skills, nurture their imagination, and gain a better understanding of their place in the world, as well as the relationships they have with others. Doing nothing is beneficial as it ensures all the needed conditions for your child to explore his passions: with no particular activity your child needs to focus on, their mind is free to wander around, your child can daydream, experience creative breakthroughs, or ask new, unusual questions. With numerous tech gadgets, kids are used to intensive screen time but boredom ensures the quiet time that’s far more important. It can support a healthy inner dialogue and help your child listen to his body and thoughts – a skill a worrying number of today’s adults lack.
Provide the needed tools but don’t be a clown on duty
There is a fine line between deciding not to amuse your child and completely ignoring them when it comes to you for help during the unstimulating times of boredom. Make sure to balance the two out: sometimes, your child needs just a bit of inspiration. You can engage in the first couple of minutes of playtime (e.g. building blocks, coloring, or playing play-pretend) but it is important to empower your children to entertain themselves on their own. To kill two birds with one stone, try introducing your kid to some kind of sport. Not only will they find a way to have fun without you interfering but they will also enjoy other benefits: building muscle strength and stamina, preventing obesity, perfecting cardiovascular fitness, and preserving mental balance. Install a couple of soccer goals in the backyard and encourage your child to practice their shots. Most children love imagining the crowd cheering or they dream about becoming the next world sports star. Even if there are no other kids around – your little rascal will cultivate their imagination while getting some great physical activity.
Support healthy hobbies and beware of chronic boredom
Of course, not all types of boredom are beneficial. If you notice excessive boredom in your child’s behavior, it might indicate a lack of clear direction or even demonstrate mild symptoms of depression. Being uninterested in anything is a positive sign your child does need additional attention and support so he can find something that moves them and brings them joy. Boredom that is not an occasional visitor needs to be addressed. If your child shows signs of lethargy, devote some time in order to help them develop a hobby or two. Reading is always advisable since it helps with cognitive development, as well as with understanding social cues better – which triggers the growth of interpersonal and social skills. Playing music is also a great hobby: if your child enjoys listening to music or has a great sense of rhythm – buy them a guitar and encourage them to develop the love towards this art. Don’t be too pushy, though. The science of relationships is one of the pivots of the Charlotte Mason Philosophy: enable your children to learn various things and build their preferences – let them be! They will gradually discover new parts of their identities and become who they need to become.
A child is like a little sponge that soaks everything in. A parent’s job is to ensure the optimal and positive surroundings for their growth, provide support, and arm them with love. Boredom is a natural state that can lead to beautiful results and broaden your child’s perspective: it enables your child to truly learn – not just from books but by contemplating, observing, or trying out different things.
family and friends. She loves to share her parenting tips and is always open to learning some new skills, because she sees her parenthood as going to school forever. She enjoys traveling, hiking, cycling and baking.”