by Stacey Schifferdecker
Do you ever wonder why kids long so for breaks from school, when after only a day or so you start to hear those dreaded whiny words: “I’m bo-o-o-o-red!” Notwithstanding a neighborhood full of friends; a room full of toys, books, games, and puzzles; a backyard full of swing sets, basketball hoops, and trampolines—our kids get bored. And you know what? Let them. Let them get bored, and let them figure out how to deal with the boredom.
I love the definition for boredom you’ll find at Firestop Terminology (although I don’t know why it’s on this site along with technical terms such as ampacity derating and through penetration). Anyhow, this site defines boredom as “A chosen state of mind brought on by laziness and the firm belief that others are in charge of the supposedly afflicted person’s own entertainment.” What a great definition! Let’s break it down into its parts:
Chosen state of mind
Do your kids really have nothing to do when they come to you claiming boredom? Doubtful—so they are choosing boredom over all the other activities available to them.
Brought on by laziness
It’s easier to whine about being bored than to get up and find something to do.
And the firm belief that others are in charge of the supposedly afflicted person’s own entertainment
“Maybe if I say I’m bored,” our kids must reason, “my mother will bring me a fascinating new toy or take me someplace cool.” After all, that’s one of our jobs as parents, right?
Wrong! When it comes to boredom, our job isn’t to rescue our children from boredom or even to make sure they never, ever have a chance to become bored. Many parenting experts believe boredom is actually good for our kids because it encourages creative thinking. So instead of jumping into the car and heading to the mall or the park the second boredom strikes, step back and give your kids a chance to think of their own solutions.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t help out a little. In fact, once your kids come up with a great idea, you will probably have to help, so be prepared to step up, get involved, and have fun together. As much as possible, support the idea they come up with. If they want to have a lemonade stand, help them make some lemonade. If they want to wash the car, pull out some rags.
Sometimes it also helps to subtly reminisce about how much fun you had as a kid building tents out of sheets or putting on plays. And be sure to keep plenty of craft supplies on hand. Glue, crayons, and glitter are great for the younger set, and even my non-crafty boys can while away hours with a pack of origami paper or Model Magic.
If all else fails, suggest an extra chore for the kids to do. At my house, this always vanquishes boredom—not because the kids do the chore, but because they are always able to quickly think of something better to do!
Stacey Schifferdecker is the happy but harried mother of three school-aged children—two boys and a girl. She is also a freelance writer, a Children’s Minister, a PTA volunteer, and a Scout leader. Stacey has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and French and a Master’s degree in English. She has written extensively about parenting and education as well as business, technology, travel, and hobbies.