Written by: Nanny Secours
“Mooooom, what can I do? Daddyyyyy, I’m bored!” Do you hear these sentences coming out of your child’s mouth often? You’re not alone!
In today’s society, a big part of the population has a busy schedule, especially families. In fact, family planners are quite popular to help coordinate everyone’s occupations. Since our weeks seem to go by in the blink of an eye, we obviously want to spend quality time with our children every chance we get. To compensate, we tend to become the family’s entertainment technician! Paradoxically, we look forward to our weekends and vacation time, but these end up being as busy. Exhausting, isn’t it?
Don’t feel guilty, boredom has many benefits! When our children aren’t entertained by our activities, they take initiative, follow their own interests, gain a better knowledge of what they like and who they are. Plus, free time allows them to develop their creativity and prevents overstimulation or sensory overload. A calm and relaxed brain and body retains information better. Conclusion: a rested child learns more easily! Children who have to find something to do without help develop their sense of curiosity, autonomy, perseverance, as well as their problem-solving and organizational skills. Your unavailability to entertain also contributes to cultivating their patience; a rather important virtue to learn at a young age!
Of course, teaching a child to tame boredom is rarely fun. Complaints and pestering demands can test your own patience, especially in the car or at the restaurant! Remember that efforts will be rewarded. Your kids will develop a little independence and you will finally have more of that highly coveted time! Encourage them: surely they will eventually find something to do. And why not transform this learning process into a challenge? For example, you could ask your child to keep busy on their own for 5 to 10 minutes and then gradually increase this time. You could even start an activity together and let them finish on their own.
Take a minute for a brief self-analysis. Are you comfortable with doing nothing? If the answer is no, it’s not surprising your child also finds it difficult to accept down time. Remember to lead by example, your actions should reflect your words. The more you will value free time, the more your child will accept it.
Computers, tablets or video games do a great job entertaining kids. I myself came across several families who always leave the television or the radio on under the pretext it creates a presence. Although the child may not always seem to be paying attention, this screen time is constant stimulation. What if, wishing to do well, we fill the void too quickly? How will they learn to become comfortable with solitude or boredom? Are we not reinforcing the belief that our child should never be bored? By limiting the access or unplugging them from screens, you give them the opportunity to enjoy the silence and relax for a while… and maybe even improve their social skills if they choose to play with their siblings or friends.
Remember your childhood. What did you play with most often or what were you most creative with? Personally, it was when I was building forts in the woods with branches or with blankets on the sofa. The less toys your child has, the more they put their imagination to good use! Get rid of toys that are too specific and do not give enough room to creativity. You’ve probably noticed your child gets bored of these toys fast. Take the time to ask them about themes and games that inspire them. You can even make a list (with images, if they are young) that they can refer to when they don’t know what to do.
You might ask me, “And where is my quality time with my kid in all this?” And I will answer: “And what about your own quality time with yourself?” Parents who take care of themselves are more relaxed, happy and more mentally and emotionally available when spending time with their children. It’s a win-win for everyone. Plus, you can always engage in a game your child created and immerse yourself in their imagination. Find your inner child and you will discover a world much more enriching than an overly organized schedule!
Master Practitioner in Family Coaching, NLP Practitioner, B. Ed.
Member of Réseau Nanny secours