You Should Let your Kids Get Bored from Time to Time
Being a parent in the 21st century initially sounds like something that can be easily mastered. With improvements in all of life’s aspects, from medicine to lifestyles, to the state of the economy, all the way to the improvements of technology – times have certainly made plenty of things easier for parents to learn and manage.
When it comes to keeping children entertained, and as such, busy, while the parent can go about their daily chores, their work-related duties or any other routines they may have, technology is a major help. A phone or a tablet can easily grab the child’s attention for hours to no end, be it with the help of a game or a cartoon or whatever other applications the child finds entertaining. Surely it can be a productive activity and time well spent if it involves helping the child develop new skills, or improve the already acquired ones, but it can also mean something less beneficial for the young boy or girl.
With technology taking up so much of our time, filling numerous aspects of our lives and ultimately simplifying so much in our chores or day to day lives, it also poses something negative if overused.
The most widely known negative effect of filling one’s time with the use of technology is known as allowing children to spend too much time on their devices, to the point that it no longer helps them develop any skills, but it immerses them into the animations and captivates them to the point that they’re too caught up with participating to a story already thought out or decided for them, than to use and exercise their own creativity anymore, to come up with new scenarios, new activities for themselves and even be able to get to know themselves better.
The question this issue raises is: how do we end up doing so much worse, through our desire to do good and keep them entertained?
The answer is simple: we, as parents, try to micromanage the child’s time.
Micromanaging the child’s time
While you might be inclined to say that it’s not the case with your own child or with your parenting style, you might want to take a step back and observe, if you have come to this point of wondering about your child’s past times and overall development.
The most common issue parents encounter, which as a result makes them push their child towards technology in general, or makes them try to come up with diverse or complex (or just time consuming) activities for their child, is the presence of boredom in their child. It’s natural that kids will get bored, and it’s more healthy than you might initially consider it to be, really. The real problem is, however, what the kids do when they get bored.
Unsure of what to do with themselves, what to play or where to go, the child ultimately reaches out to their parent for ideas on how to fill their time, how to stop being bored. The parent, perhaps busy with something else, be it job or housework or school related, has their moment of focus dispersed and paying attention to the task at hand again with a nagging child, hovering around them in their “extremely bored” state, can be something extremely hard to achieve in return. A parent’s first instinct when busy and when facing a bored child is to attempt to fill up their time with something, to suggest an activity. Perhaps you usually ask them to draw something for you, or maybe you send them to build a pretty castle with Lego pieces so you can finish your work in the meanwhile. In any case, it’s not good for the child.
Much like games on a phone, when a parent already gives the child a thought out scenario to adapt to, like going to color a book, they rob the child of a moment of creativity that should have been theirs and could have helped them improve their imagination, sense of independence and overall feeling of comfort when having to keep themselves company. The most important thing a child should get a good grasp on is self-reliance and becoming aware that they can make choices themselves to explore and learn things from discovering them, and that they don’t need to wait to be ordered around by a parent, especially not when it comes to occupying themselves with something to do during their own free time.
Allowing your child to be bored and be forced to address their own boredom without your input can actually be so much more beneficial for them than redirecting them to a temporary activity will ever be. Not only will the child have to think on their own and come up with their own solutions to the terrible, terrible misfortune that is becoming bored for them, but they will start to discover the things they like to do most. They will obviously be more inclined towards an activity they like, or a sudden idea acquired perhaps from doing something else, not as exciting, at first, rather than they will be by things their parent could suggest. You could enlist a bunch of things they could play and they could make faces at each and every one of those because maybe they want your attention instead, and they have to learn that they simply cannot have that every single time they get bored.
So what really is there to do? Let them be bored. It might take a few attempts before you can successfully let their nagging drop, and it might take a few minutes for them to give up on trying to get answers out of you in their unwillingness to think of something themselves, but in the end, when faced with no feedback regarding their boredom, they will inevitably go to seek entertainment somewhere else. Ideas will come to them about what to play the more they look around and the more they have to sit with themselves, and it will be much better for them in the long run.
If you feel guilty at first, for ignoring their requests for something to do, then rest assured that you are actually doing them a great favor by allowing them to get creative on their own and discover that a moment of boredom is not the end of the world!