The Gift Of Boredom
As your kids get older, you may find yourself hearing this refrain less and less (perhaps because your kids spend less and less time hanging around the house with you). But parents of younger kids may hear these words multiple times a day, and every once in a while, a younger teen will sigh and bemoan the lack of excitement in the household and, well, life in general.
When kids say something like this, they’re usually looking for someone to take care of them. Researchers say that there has been a huge increase in the number of structured activities for kids in the past two decades — things like day care, camps, organized sports, and summer programs. So when kids are in-between these kinds of activities, they’ve really lost the ability to create fun for themselves; they need an adult to direct them.
You might find that the phrase “I’m bored” appears more often at the beginning of the summer, as kids transition from the structure of school and after-school activities, to the freedom of summer. After the initial novelty wears off, a lot of kids become disillusioned with all this unstructured, free time. But this time fosters creativity and provides a break from the constant bombardment of stimuli that kids often receive, either from school, tv or other media, and a “go-go-go” lifestyle.
So as not to encourage our kids to burn out the way that we sometimes do, we need to give them downtime — unstructured free time that they can just be. Unhook from the devices, get outside, call a friend, take up a new hobby, walk by the lake, volunteer, experiment, daydream – just be. Give them space to figure out for themselves what the antidote to “I’m bored” is. They may surprise themselves with what they come up with.