Children are in general seen as busy beings. One moment they are playing, the next moment they are jumping and running. But, there can be times when they are not doing anything. Some children may verbally say that they are bored. Those who are not introduced to this word or those who cannot identify this state of mind might say nothing, or substitute with other demands like wanting a gadget, or begin an episode of tantrum while they may be simply bored.
This post is a part of a series of posts on this blog on The Things that really matter to Children. Click the link to see the complete list of posts in the series.
B for Boredom in Children: How we handle a bored child matters!
The first time I noticed my boy sitting on the sofa, staring at the wall, doing and talking nothing, it felt worrying. Why, a child who is otherwise busy, sitting quietly means something is wrong, isn’t it? My immediate action was to enquire him about what had happened. When he replied there was nothing, I didn’t want to leave it there. I wanted to further dig into his thoughts. I expected him to describe what was going on him, if something was bothering him and perhaps share his emotions. Well, well, I wasn’t a grown-up mom then to know that a bored child neither would want to budge to such interrogations.
Another day when he came to me complaining that he felt bored, I was even more bored to deal with his boredom, so I advised him to sit down quietly for sometime. After a few minutes of quiet time, he suddenly sprang to action and fled back to his play again. It had so happened that while he was trying to create something with cardboard, he got stuck at one particular step. He had given up and come to me complaining he felt bored. While he was quiet, he had picked up the idea from nowhere to solve the problem he had encountered in his cardboard construction and thus jumped back to his play.
When we sense our child is bored, we immediately pursue to engage them into an activity. We give them prompts of things they usually like to do. We offer them ways like eating or outing to relieve them from the boredom. Busy parents may resign their bored child to gadgets. For many of us, seeing boredom in children is something terrible; something unacceptable and something unnatural.
But, boredom in children is not as bad as we assume!
In spite of the playthings around them, when children feel bored, for time being they’re lacking motivation to initiate a play or an activity on their own. What they may need at the moment is a break. Sometimes sitting quietly without doing anything is just fine for children to do. This quiet time can help them sort out the complexities in their minds and perhaps find solution to a problem they had encountered during their play. Sometimes, a bored child might lack a companion. If you offer to team up for an activity with them, you can notice a sudden sparkle on their faces. Sometimes, they might be tired, hungry or sleepy. Sometimes, they can be bored for no reason.
Over the years, I’ve come to terms that allowing my boy to feel bored is alright; just like how I’ll allow him to experience anything else nice. It has been long since I sat on the floor to play with him. I’ve almost outgrown that stage of mothering to him. On most days, he is on his own. If he feels bored, I allow him to be. I don’t interfere with his boredom. I consider it as an opportunity for him to deal with yet another thing in life.
But I listen to him – he may complain; he may feel frustrated – but I listen to him without interfering. With what I’ve observed, when children come to us with a problem, they more often want us to listen than offer a solution. Trying to fix their problems can only make the situation worse. It can make them feel inadequate of dealing with their own problems. But listening to them with full ears is just all enough to them, for they find a way to sort out their mental anxieties by the way of explaining it to us.
When everybody is busy paying attention to their work, when everybody is ready to shower them with anti-boredom ideas, and when everybody is pointing to how to get diverted from boredom, boredom in children isn’t really addressed.
There’s more power for your child in boredom than you can imagine. Allow your child to get bored.
What really matters to a bored child is a grown-up who have their ears for them!
List of posts in the Series
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