The B Word

Ever felt an uncomfortable pang of guilt in response to hearing your child whine 'Muuuuuum, I'm bored!’? Perhaps the feeling showed up as irritation, or annoyance driven by a desire to say oh-my-goodness-look-at-your-four-thousand-toys/ siblings/ fun-new-plaything while simultaneously having a little adult tantrum in your head? (Insert optional huffy breath).

If like me, you have felt the need to schedule activities and take on the role of Lead Entertainer for your kids at times, I’m here to share some good news I recently discovered. Take a deep breath and listen up; your child’s boredom is a great thing and isn’t a metaphorical awkward conversation pause that you need to rush to fill.

Here’s why…

1. Research has shown that when we allow our kids white space in their days to be ‘bored’, it acts as a catalyst for their creativity. By leaving kids to their own devices, you’re opening up the space for them to daydream, wonder, and think creatively in their own way and at their own pace. This kind has thinking is the same one that births imaginary games and deep engagement in activities.

2. Being bored is often a precursor for developed problem-solving. Faced with the dilemma of how to amuse themselves, children are able to put their natural resourcefulness into play and channel it into self-directed, independent activities. Through this type of play they are able to discover their own strengths, preferences and the magic of their imagination.

3. Feeling bored and untangling it them self is an experience that will also serve our children in building their resilience. The experience teaches them that they are capable of working their way through uncomfortable feelings and finding a solution for it all on their own.

4. Dr Vanessa Lapointe once pointed out that “Children need to sit in their own boredom for the world to become quiet enough so they can hear themselves”. It’s a busy, overstimulating world for our kids. All children, particularly those who are highly sensitive or prone to sensory overload, benefit from stepping out of that hustle and sometimes boredom is the quickest route there.

Still not convinced your little ones will happily skip off for some self-directed play if left to their own devices? Here’s a strategy to try…

Image via Playful Little Learners

Beat them at their own game and set up ‘invitations to play’. The inspiring Amy of @playfullittlelearners introduced me to this beautiful concept in which you set up open-ended activities that kids can engage with in a variety of ways. An example may be a tray set up with blobs of playdough, a bowl of gumnuts and some plastic animal figurines. Resist the temptation to walk your child through ‘how to’ or to model playing and instead, allow them to gravitate naturally to the activities that interest them and engage in creative ways that suit their own personality and style! You’ll likely be amazed at their ideas and may even get a big dose of warm-&-fuzzy when you see them joyfully lost in their own play world.

I'll leave you with some parting words from my own Mum, who's voice I can still here in my head (all these years later!) telling me that 'only boring people stay bored'. You can bet that the inquisitive little mind who pleads for one more story each bedtime and loses themselves in nature when walking along the beach won't be bored for long.

Image via Pinterest