It’s a lament every parent since the dawn of time is familiar with. They have a room full of toys, a yard to explore, the world literally at their fingertips… but they can’t find a single thing to do.
I find this especially common with my youngest when she doesn’t have her older siblings to entertain her. However, with the increased presence of screens in the house, I have to confess I hear less of this than I used to. To be honest, it’s a little unnerving.
Unsurprisingly, I am not alone in my inclination to allow screen time to fill my children’s empty time.
Psychologist and parenting expert, Dr Vanessa Lapointe, tells ParentTV busy parents are more likely to try to schedule activities or let devices occupy children’s time to alleviate the dreaded cries of boredom.
But we aren’t doing our kids any favours by keeping them occupied all the time. Dr Lapointe emphases that boredom actually does our kids good.
It is in the quiet stillness of boredom that children can actually hear themselves. It is in the quiet stillness of boredom that children actually get to connect with who they are,” explains Dr Lapointe.
When given the space to be bored, then consequently deal with the frustration and discomfort that it brings, children are more likely to develop key life skills than enable them to be resourceful and resilient.
Tackling boredom can increase a child’s overall motivation, problem solving skills and creativity.
Which makes sense. We all reminisce to our children and other parents about “the good old days”. You know, when we were sent outside to climb trees, run amok in the neighbourhood and make our own fun.
Dr Lapointe says this experience is an integral part of a child’s development and journey of self-discovery.
As parents we want the best for our kids, but by occupying them all the time, are we unwittingly doing them harm by not letting them work out how to entertain themselves?
By letting them be bored we are actually doing them a favour. It is important to reduce external stimulation and allowing them to find their own way.
I know when my kids are unplugged and left to their own (non-electronic) devices they come up with some amazing things. Fantastical imaginative play, daring physical feats and surprising demonstrations of cooperation which I would love to see more of.
So next time your child says, “I’m bored”, Dr Lapointe strongly recommends the following course of action: reply with “I love bored” and do nothing.
That’s definitely what I am going to do!