If your house is anything like mine, then the first few weeks of summer vacation, the kids come to tell you they are “bored”, like “really bored”. I don’t think this is because our house is boring, but I think the kids have been in school five days a week for 8 hours a day with a teacher keeping them on task all day. Basically, it comes down to the fact that the kids have forgotten how to entertain themselves. The good news is that they will learn if given the opportunity.
Michael Ungar Ph.D. said in an article called, Let Kids be Bored (Occasionally),
Children who experience a lack of programmed activity are given an opportunity to demonstrate creativity, problem-solving, and to develop motivational skills that may help them later in life. Are we really doing our children a service by removing quiet, unstructured time from their lives? When we endlessly program them with activities, show them videos while driving, insist on being their playmates when other children aren’t available, and buying them amusements like video games, have we overlooked the amazing opportunities for psychological growth right there in the quiet of our own homes?
Do Not Over Plan
I think the first thing we as parents can do is to not over plan. When my daughter told me, she was bored and asked if we were doing anything fun today my reply was that we would do plenty of fun things this summer, but we did not need to have something fun planned every day. I think it is okay to not have every day be structured activities. Moms this means we can still accomplish some tasks this summer and not be an event planner.
Supporting Their Creative Pursuits
We, as parents, can facilitate kids in learning to entertain themselves. First and foremost, is to schedule free time. This means time where kids are free to just play. No structure or arts and crafts activities that we have planned. In other words, plan nothing! Second, we need to know how important free time is for kids. I know parents it can sometimes be just as hard on us as it is on them when they pester you with their boredom. When you become tempted to solve their boredom remember these words by Dr. Vanessa Lapointe, R. Psych.:
So the next time you hear those two little words – “I’m bored” – grab onto them like a lifeline for your child and do…nothing! With a knowing and swagger-filled smile, just nod and say “I love bored” and offer zero options for filling in that void of nothing.
And then watch. Watch as your child’s mind becomes quiet. Watch as their internal sense of self takes over. Watch as their sense of being comes bubbling out of them and spills over into this incredible energy to create and do and conquer. And then watch as they grow into confident, capable, driven young people.