“I’m booooooored!” With school holidays starting last week and this, parents across Queensland are bracing themselves for those two dreaded words. But instead of packing your summer holidays with chock-a-block activities, are there some benefits to letting kids get bored?
If boredom is a lack of stimulation, how many of our kids are truly “bored”? We fill their days with play dates, activities, interactive toys and screen time, and our kids are more a part of our social lives than previous generations ever were (proof positive: how many of us are ordering babycinos along with our lattes when meeting our adult friends?). The reality is that we rarely allow time for our kids to be bored – and are we doing them a disservice?
When we remove the extracurricular activities, screens and devices and just let kids “be”, they get a chance to ignite their creativity, imagination and relationships with others. Rather than entertaining your kids every day over the holidays, allow time for unstructured play with no deadlines, no obligations and little parental involvement. And watch them reap the rewards:
Problem solving – kids who have free time and a lack of directed activity have more opportunity to problem solve. From making up a game to writing a story or resolving an argument with a playmate, allow the kids to explore their independence and sort things out for themselves.
Creativity – making tents with blankets, digging in the garden, inventing a new dish in the kitchen . . . giving kids the space to let their imaginations run free boosts creativity, encourages role play and new experiences, and lets them be the captain of their own experience. Don’t jump in to “fix things” or show them the “proper” way – experimentation and making the best of accidental failures are core life skills we could all do with.
Relationships – scheduled play dates are often more precision-planned than a military exercise. As parents, we decide who our child is playing with, where, for how long, and we set up activities to ensure they have lots to “do” to create a positive experience for the kids. We jump in when bickering starts and we are vigilant about manners and etiquette – after all, the way our child behaves reflects on us, right? But removing ourselves from the equation allows our kids to develop relationships on their own terms, work out how to deal with tricky situations and gives them the confidence that they can engage with others independently.
These summer holidays, brace yourself for the “I’m bored” brigade and encourage your kids to embrace it. Head to the beach, the park, or the backyard and allow them explore without clock-watching or hovering. Let the kids be their own boredom busters, and make their own fun. Enjoy!