“I’m bored!! Seriously, there’s nothing to do.”
On weekends and school holidays, it’s not uncommon that a child might have a hard time entertaining themselves. With the chaos of school days, endless homework, a busy friend schedule, and extracurricular activities, it’s not that surprising that when your child does have some downtime, they’re a bit lost and confused about what to do with their newfound freedom.
But what if we help them embrace the boredom rather than continue to fill their time? Can boredom actually be a good thing for a child?
Boredom = Incredible Benefits!
- Being bored gives a child the chance to let their mind wander and get their creativity flowing. They might think of a new game or a new way of being. This is true for ALL children – not only the “creative” ones. They just need some time and space to be bored!
- When a child is bored, they’re able to think in solution mode. They’ll be able to think of fun and new ways to entertain themselves – and this is huge for their development and confidence.
- Doing nothing is proven to calm a brain and let it recover from all the other stimuli it goes through on a daily basis.
- Being bored gives your child time to self-regulate and learn how to be on their own while managing their own time.
21st-century children oftentimes have a harder time at being bored than previous generations. All of the electronics and accessibility to communication methods has shifted the way their brains are wired. This is a modern problem – but when a child is given space to be bored, it’s exciting to see what they can come up with!
Helping your Child be Bored –Top Tips
- Stop jumping in and being their entertainer. It’s not your job! If you’re in this cycle, you can shift this by weening. For example, you can start an activity with them (like coloring) and leave them to it after a few minutes. Or you can intentionally only half-listen to them when they complain that they’re bored. When they realize that you’re not going to help them find something to do, they’ll get creative.
- Don’t jam-pack the weekends. It can be so tempting to have a fun-filled weekend of soccer games, birthday parties, playdates, and activities. But try leaving in some downtime where your child can simply exist. Maybe try just sitting next to them and do nothing. See what they come up with. Or go for a walk – chances are they will come up with a fun game like eye-spy. Let them get bored and see what happens. This can be fun for you as well!
- Create a “bored” list. Have them create a list that they can turn to on the days they get bored and can’t think of anything to do. If they need a little encouragement, maybe suggest things to do like putting on a play, building a fort, playing a card game, making a dance contest, or baking cookies – of course, make sure it is an age-appropriate list. Let this list live somewhere so they can easily consult it. Try your hardest to keep them away from just watching another episode or playing another computer game. The key here is that they are producing and using their creativity in a fun way.
So, the next time your little one comes to you and tells you they’re bored, try out one of these tips! Letting their brain get creative and a simple, “I can’t wait to see what you come up with!” can work wonders. Happy parenting!