– by Diana Swope
“Mom, I’m bored.”
No school! Our three kids (ages 10, 8 and 6) were home on Thursday with an ice day. They were beyond excited. My husband and I were the opposite. This meant juggling another day of work and childcare. After making them breakfast and turning them loose for the day, our 6-year-old came up to me and complained, “I’m bored. I have nothing to do.” I cheerfully suggested, “Well, you can play Monopoly, there are the LEGOS to build with, or you can look at your baseball cards!” I rattled off all sorts of ideas to magically solve his boredom. I thought about putting them on their screens for a second, but I wasn’t that desperate yet. I sent Jeffrey off to figure it out and promised to play and whip up some hot chocolate after I finished up what I was working on because I felt guilty for not being the FUN mom on their ice day.
Finding the Benefits of Boredom
There was a relatively recent New York Times article about the benefits of boredom. “Boredom teaches us that life isn’t a parade of amusements. More importantly, it spawns creativity and self-sufficiency.” I have been caught up in the modern parenting trap that every spare moment of the kids’ day should be optimized and driven towards a goal. There’s no time for boredom. Furthermore, I felt that it was my responsibility to solve my children’s boredom. I was falling down on my job.
Seeing Boredom and Unstructured Time as Opportunities, Not Problems
I was wrong. “Teaching children to endure boredom rather than ratcheting up the entertainment will prepare them for a more realistic future, which doesn’t raise false expectations of what work or life itself entails.” When I immediately jumped in to solve their boredom, it stunted them. Children need to encounter and deal with unstructured time. Viewing boredom as an opportunity to DO something will benefit both parent and child. They’ll try new things, develop better frustration tolerance, and build self-confidence, among other things.
Enjoying the Benefits of Boredom for Parents and Kids
Reading the article makes me feel less compelled to solve my children’s boredom in the future, and I hope any parents who are reading this will be saved from feeling like you have to rescue your children from boredom. So look out, Swope children, the next time you come to me and complain you are bored, you will receive a response of “WONDERFUL! I can’t wait to see what you do!”
At OPG we understand the challenges that juggling academics and extracurricular activities can present, especially with the additional adjustments involved in hybrid or online learning. For children with special educational or behavioral needs, this can be particularly difficult. Learn about our private educational support and behavioral support services to help you get the most out of your parent/child relationship. If you or a loved one are in need of support, contact us today. Our compassionate professionals are here to help find the resources to support you and your family.