What if boredom is the key to more creativity and unlocks imagination? This can't happen if parents and adults are always looking for ways to keep their kids from being bored. I appreciate the honesty of one father who found out that his constant entertaining of his child was not only dis-empowering his child, it was affecting his relationship with his wife. He discovered that there are many benefits to letting your child be with their own boredom- improves creativity and motivation, better sense of self worth and improved relationships. So how can adults empower kids using boredom?
Questions like: Am I truly bored? What is really going on? Do I feel disconnected? What can I do to be more connected to life and living? What are my choices? If I could do anything right now, what would I like to do? What else is possible beyond this boredom that I never thought existed? What's right about this space of nothingness? Is this a time that I can just BE? What if I don't have to be doing something all of the time?
These are just a few examples of the questions that we can ask of ourselves and of our children to spark and ignite the imagination, the connection to infinite possibilities, and to create something we have been open to creating before.
One response a mom gave her child when the "I'm bored" words poured forth was, "Wonderful! I love boredom!" She didn't make it wrong to be bored. Her child was empowered to do what they wanted with the space of doing nothing. This response and others like it, let the child know that they are in control of being bored or just being with themselves to explore what is next. This also en-trains them to know that they are the creators of their life and they don't need to depend on mom, dad, teacher, or anyone else to orchestrate their day. They get to experience making choices for themselves and the experiences and learning that come from those choices. But most of all, they know they have choice.
Along with the constant stimulation of today’s world, makes moving beyond boredom really challenging for a lot of kids. Screens are everywhere and become a mind-numbing outlet. Scheduled programming abounds, and worse, feeling like our kids need to keep up, we register them in all of that programming. School demands are significant and increasingly leak out of the school hours into the home hours. And busy has become the new “cool” - almost like there is an unspoken message to all of us that you have worth if you are busy. Teaching kids that they have choice, may be a challenge, especially if they have depended on you and devices to make their choice for them. You can invite them into a different possibility that gives them control over some of their choices.
To help in this you may want to implement something like the Choice Game. You can always find great ideas to offer your kids when they are looking to create their list for their choice game by doing some research together.
The key to remember is that you are not responsible for eliminating boredom. In fact, once your kids get that you aren't going to rescue them from being bored, they will find their way through it (with gently guidance from you) and your parent role just became easier.
For more ideas on dealing with boredom listen to Mary's Be You Parenting Radio show for July 2nd, 2018, Using Boredom to Empower Your Kids.