Dad! Mom! I’m bored! We’ve all heard those words at one point or another, rushed in to save the day, pointed to every toy or activity we could think
First of all, let’s me say that in my opinion – boredom is good.
Children, tweens and teens are used to having their time (and screen time) filled to the brim by others. Between school, afterschool activities and screen time, they hardly ever have just some free time to fill up and do as they please. All of which makes it perfectly understandable that when they have that three-hour block of free time on Saturday afternoon, they have no idea how to fill it.
More screen time is not the solution
Unstructured times pose a challenge, but they also offer an opportunity for your child to discover her interests, her creativity and her imagination. This is the chance to build a fort, come up with a short story, put on some crazy makeup or go outside and study bugs. Nothing individual, creative or wonderful can come into being without that blank canvas. And yes, that blank canvas can be boring, until your child starts making something of it.
Which is all very nice in theory, but what should you do when your dear son or daughter are bored?
Be bored together. Something will come up
Don’t offer solutions, as they will simply be activities structured by others. Instead, stay in contact with them, and let them recharge on the connection. Don’t rush to your cell phone or job, unless you really have to. Sit around, make eye contact, empathize with how bored they feel, make a stupid joke about it and laugh together. Drink some cocoa. Let them know that you care.
Who knew parenting through boredom would be so easy?
And that’s it. Something will come up, because when people are feeling cared for, they have the energy to make that happen. And, when your daughter decides to dress up, or your son decides to open that jigsaw puzzle, or when both go outside to toss ball – celebrate their success. Even help them make it more over-the-top. They not only overcome the boredom monster, but they also took a step toward becoming self-initiating and self-aware young people.
And if time away from screens is still an issue, perhaps a parenting app like Jiminy can help you understand the way they use their phones. After all, knowing the source of the problem is half the battle.