As soon as the tulips drop their beautiful red and yellow petals many parents begin to panic. For now begins the annual season of what-to-do-with-the-kids-over-the-summer. Somehow the ideology that kids must have every waking moment accounted for has led to a new trend of over booking children’s school break activities. Child psychologists are reporting a disturbing development among kids who need constant prefab entertainment. Without which they simply have no idea what to do with themselves. And believe me the worst thing a kid can say to their parents on a hot summer day, is “I’m bored.”
Yet every parent will hear it a time or two. It often comes after an especially full day of activity, when Mom and Dad would like nothing better than to kick back in the old recliner and watch some mindless TV for an hour or two. Usually in a scene like this; the child will wander in dragging their feet with a long face, he/she will then plop down on the couch and announce boredom. Instantly a shot of adrenaline pumps through the parental blood, sending them scrambling for some kind of fix that will conciliate the child. A bowl of ice cream, a board game, or they may even give up the TV to let the child watch a Disney movie. I’ve actually seen a couple drop everything to take their child to Chucky Cheese Pizza playhouse, after just such a day. Anything to not hear the dreaded, “I’m bored,” from their child.
However, it’s time we all understand that boredom is a good thing for kids, that is if you let them handle it. Boredom is an opportunity for them to explore their imaginations, to be creative thinkers and to learn personal responsibility. When a child is bored the parents need to step back and remember that childrens boredom is not a problem. If you have provided plenty of creative tools in your home, via games, toys, crayons and/or paint and space to explore them, then you have fulfilled your responsibility to your child’s mental growth, and now it is up to them to take charge.
Keep in mind the fault of all this distress does not lay with the children, but with parents, whom believe they must fix every upside down smile.It may seem hard to let go at first and make necessary changes, especially after years of habitual hopping up to indulge your child’s every whim, but it's actually very simple. All you need to do is hand them the reigns. The next time your child says, “I’m bored,” plainly respond with “That’s too bad. What are you going to do about it?” Then watch the light bulb go on. Sure you’ll probably get some mumbling, “I don’t know,” a time or two, but that can be quickly averted with the suggestion of chores. In time your kids will begin to see that you are not the boredom fixer, they are. Although you will still need to contribute the tools, the rewards the kids recieve will grow in themselves.
Children that have the opportunity to supply some of the joy to their own day through creative free play will grow up to be thinkers and doers. Not only will they have a full reserve of employable ideas to solve even greater adult problems, but they will also know themselves as the supply. Ultimately stepping back a little more, you will be helping your children see themselves as capable. Then we parents can relax a bit as they grow older, knowing they can handle things no matter what hits the fan.