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Why is it okay to let your child get bored?

Mumma! I am getting bored. I’m sure every parent would have been a millionaire by now if they were paid a penny every time they heard this sentence from their kid. The Covid-19 pandemic not only brought hours long of online classes for kids but also a lot of boredom.

So what do parents do when they hear those troublesome words from their child “I am bored”? They start running on their toes to find ways to entertain their child, play with him, teach him, cook with him, but we seldom let them be. We all have heard “An idle mind is a devil’s workshop”, and parents would rather keep their kids engaged all the time than let the devil do his little business in their kid’s mind. 

Boredom is seen as a bad thing

Getting bored is often seen in a bad light. It is seen as an absence of something as if something is missing. It is related to nothingness, nothing to do, nothing to think, nowhere to go. That is the reason why parents sometimes get stressed out a little too much to help their kids get out of boredom. What parents sometimes fail to understand is the difference between idle mind and constructive boredom. Researchers have shown that letting your child get bored sometimes can help in both the mental and emotional development of a child. 

Parenting in covid times has been tough

As difficult the lockdown has been for kids, it has been even more challenging for parents in terms of giving their children a proper homeschooling schedule. Earlier before the lockdown, children spent time outdoors in school, in the playground, in daycare whereas parents had to go to work and had other-worldly commitments. This levied parents with a much greater task, wiz. parenting, taking care of their children constantly. The lockdown has been challenging for the parents a little more than others. Our house became our world. Children are attending classes online, completing assignments and playing indoors. Under the given circumstances, children with their short attention span can get bored way too easily. 

The phrase “I’m bored” is the equivalent of fingernails scraping down a chalkboard—it drives parents crazy. In this quest to avoid this situation, parents often over-schedule their children’s time table. While it is good to keep them engaged, too much attention and engagement can lead to spoiling them, making them dependent on you every time they get bored. Children constantly saying they are bored to parents simply means they are being lazy to come up with their own ideas to help themselves. Parents should leave their children unoccupied for some time in their day. Boredom has its own benefits, you can find them if you look.

Why children can’t cope with getting bored

Consider the situation. Your child is watching TV and there is a power cut. Your child has had enough of computers and laptops due to online classes. What are you most likely to hear from your child now? “Mum! I am bored.” Now amidst your office meeting, you are looking for ways to keep your child engaged. But have you ever thought it is not your job to find a solution for everything? Your job is to provide enough options for your kids when they get bored. They need to figure out how to keep them entertained.

Children these days live a very structured life. Technology and all the extracurricular activities have created a world where kids have very little time to just ‘be’. Children get used to being occupied all the time, take care of all the time and when they fail to find it, they start feeling bored. The lockdown acted as a cherry on top, when kids were not alone for even an hour. Under the given circumstances, kids are in constant monitoring and they find it strange when they are left alone.

Why getting bored is good

If I say boredom is good, you should leave your children unattended to get bored, you might now believe me. But wait till you read the following arguments as to why you should let your children get bored.

1) Boredom fosters creativity

When children are left on their hands, they are forced to be more creative. They will unleash the horses of their brain and imagination. Children will find ways to amuse themselves. The mind never stands still, it likes to wander. It is most active when it has nothing to do. If you look into the past, most of the discoveries have happened due to the curiosity arisen from boredom. When kids have nothing to do, they daydream, when they do so they exercise their imagination and finally articulate their imagination. The power of thinking is the greatest of all. So let your child think next time he says “I am bored”, who knows the next world’s greatest invention or a piece of art might take place from your home.

2) Boredom develops the problem-solving ability

Only boring people get bored. If your child is not one of them, Voila! Half the task is done. You just need to motivate them and tell them ways in which they can keep their boredom away. There is a minute difference between helping your child and spoon-feeding them. But this difference sometimes for parents is difficult to comprehend. You must give them the task and let them find ways to do it. Helping them every time when they are at loose ends will make them dependent on you. Later on, they will always seek you whenever they get stuck in any obstacle. In this case, they have to rely on themselves to tackle the problem of getting bored. 

3) Boredom helps them identify themselves and make them enjoy their own company

Have your children embrace boredom because it gives them the opportunity to think their own thoughts. Children sense to understand their likings and dislikings. In the process, they get to know themselves better.

Because there is nothing to do at the moment, they might pick up a paintbrush, a pen, and start creating. They soon discover the gift of passion and can not live without it. They might find their calling. Without the time to just “be” they otherwise might not have tapped into that giftedness. So let your child get bored, your next Picasso is waiting to be discovered.  

4) Boosts their confidence

When children grow up, you won’t be there every moment of the day. Children should learn how to keep the boredom away right from the small age in order to fully enjoy themselves and their own company later. When a child is not feared by being alone, it boosts his self-esteem. He is ready to face any situation with the confidence to come out of it like a superhero. Apart from that, when children do not see all their demands getting fulfilled in a jiffy, they will understand the whole world is not always revolving around them. It will keep stubbornness far from their doors. 

How to encourage your child to make the best out of their boredom?

If your child is used to getting managed every moment, it is time to make a shift to a way of life where they take the matter in their own hands. Give them the chance to amuse themselves in numerous ways. It will be difficult in the beginning because they do not know how to do it, but it has to start from somewhere. Within no time your little champ will be well versed with it. For starters, you can make use of the following ways. 

1) No timetable day

It is rightly said too many cooks spoil the broth. Do not put so much on their plate which they ain’t able to cope up with. Breaks are important, even from the time table. It will levy the problem of over scheduling. Take out a day which is unstructured and unplanned. Keep yourself off the time table too. Do impromptu activities, little trips, plays etc.

2) Outdoor plays rather than gadgets and toys

We all remember our childhood for running carefree on meadows, for the numerous plays like hide and seek, hopscotch. We certainly do not want our kids to remember their childhood for mobile phones and tablets. This is the perfect time to go back to your roots and play your childhood plays with your children. This will also give them a sense of belonging with nature. And eventually, you’ll notice your children start spending time alone playing outdoor plays. 

3) Reduce the attention span

Do not insinuate ideas way too easy in your kid’s brain. Let them lay on the grass, observe the shape of the clouds and come up to you with their own little observations. Let them try to count the number of starts and then teach them about the solar system. Let them observe shadowplays. Reduce your attention span from them and let them amuse you with their observing skills.

4) Assign open-ended tasks 

Assign some open-ended tasks like a treasure hunt, setting up their tent, doing their bed etc. Do not tell them how to do it, tell them what to do. When you tell them how to do it, you are blocking their creative way to do the task. This also gives them the liberty to do it their way. They will sense a feeling of conquest when they do it all by themselves.