A Case For Downtime
It often feels as though the natural thing to do when faced with an occasionally “bored child” is to rescue her from her situation. However, children, like adults, require some downtime and being bored can offer an opportunity to rest, daydream and think creatively. For you to deal with a child who says she is bored, it is important to acknowledge that boredom is not always a bad thing. Here are some dos and don’ts to deal with your occasionally bored child:
1. Do Listen and Connect
Often, young children start to whine and complain that they are bored only because they need your attention. When your child comes over to you saying that she is bored, do not ignore her; this will only lead to greater problems including tantrums, shouting, sulking and destructive behaviour. Instead, listen to what your child is saying without offering solutions. For example, “Mom, I am bored,” you could reply and say, “Oh I see.” Take some time to connect by cuddling, tickling on the couch, or hugging. In a short while, the child might run off and find something to fill up his time with.
2. Do offer to come up with ideas
If your child still hangs around and insists she doesn’t have anything to do, explain to her that she is the one in charge of choosing what to do with her free time but you can help her come up with ideas. Brainstorm various activities that she can start with for example , clean the pet, organize her room, go out to play, read, do some art work, take a small nap, etc. Sometimes, children do need guidance in choosing activities to fill up their “downtime”.
3. Do include him in your work
If possible, suggest that your child joins you in what you are doing. This not only fills up his time but it is also an opportunity to bond. Interestingly, children love to take up “adult work” and will feel a great sense of achievement after the job is done. So have your chid help you with cleaning the car, cooking, or cleaning the dishes when she tells you she is bored. In no time, her boredom will pass quickly and after helping you, she will come up with the next thing to do.
4. Do not structure all his time
A large number of parents over-structure their children’s life in an attempt to curb boredom or unproductive use of time. However, crowding your child’s time with activities and technical entertainment can get him too tired, anxious and dampen his creativity (skills to think out of the box). Resist from over occupying your child with too many things and allow him to do what he can do at any given time. Explain to him that having some downtime is healthy and necessary.
5. Do not give him something to do
When your child says she is bored, do not go out of your way to fill up her time with something or impose a solution to her boredom. Allow your child to find something to occupy her time with, on her own. This approach can foster a sense of creativity in your child. You will be surprised how effectively your child can think up ideas if she is left to her own devise.
6. Do not revert to the screen
Do not put your child in front of a screen for hours just because you do not have time to deal with his boredom. By now, you already know that too much TV viewing can diminish your child’s creativity and can stymie his emotional and social development. Alternatively encourage your child to play outside, read, dance, listen to music, bake, garden, or build something.