Allowing your child to be bored
In today’s society, parents are often pressured into keeping their children busy all the time. This could be through attending groups and clubs or being kept busy at home. The words ‘I’m bored!’ often make parents feel uneasy and guilty which leads to that space being, once again, filled and decided on by the adults. But let’s look at why ‘being bored’ can be a richly rewarding and beneficial state to be in.
When experiencing boredom children learn…
How to use their creativity and imagination. As long as the resources are available and there is space (indoors or outdoors) children can create their own ‘play stories’ and experiences. They can lead their play in whatever way they wish to and they are problem solving their ideas and deciding how to initiate at the same time.
- To daydream. Daydreaming is like a connection between boredom and creativity. Allowing children space just to daydream and think inside their head will bring to life new ideas and possibilities.
- To enjoy their own company. There is not always going to be someone available to interact at every given moment. Allowing children to fill their own spaces is really important. Many adults revert to unhealthy habits (for example, comfort eating) when in their own company and experiencing boredom because they don’t know how to feel in that space and just ‘be’ with themselves. By incorporating time for your child to be on their own, and encouraging them to think and problem solve, they learn to fill this space more positively. Of course the parent/adult needs to be realistic in regards to the length of time the child can do this on their own, so build up the time slowly.
- Not to use devices during these times and learn that they are not the answer to boredom. Repetitive use of devices releases dopamine in the brain, making the child crave the device, leading to addiction. Device times should be carefully timed and monitored.
When children are left to organise their own play and ideas, it encourages self-motivation and feelings of achievement. If constantly stimulated by the parent, this can lead to the child lacking motivation and self-belief and encourages reliance on others to make decisions for them.
It is up to the adult to support the child’s creativity and ideas. This could be finding some space for them to set out their own play or to put out their own paints. Show interest in what they are doing (at appropriate moments). If a child approaches you with an idea, try and work with them to allow their idea to go forwards as much as you can.
Put out craft resources and imaginary play items – this can include boxes, cardboard tubes, dressing up clothes, pasta and pots, blankets, paints and paper. Utilise the space you have as best you can.
Children all need “downtime”. Children are so different: downtime for some may be quiet, looking at books or colouring, but for others they may have the need to be loud and active. As a parent, it is about embracing your child’s temperament and recognising how they need to express themselves, whether this is with movement and physical activity or whether they enjoy calmer moments.
If you’d like to book a one-to-one session with Julie to discuss how best to constructively tackle child boredom, get in contact via the website.