What do you do when your child comes to you and says, I’m bored? If you’re like most parents, you start to try to help them come up with ways to alleviate their boredom. You name off ten, twenty options and each is met with eye-rolls or long-suffering sighs. And at some point you give in: you let them go watch a show, or play on the tablet just to give them something, anything to do so you can get back to your life of adult responsibilities.
But, what if you didn’t? What if the next time your child told you, “I’m bored,” you simply said, Okay. There are a lot of things we can ‘fix’ as adults. But there are also a lot of things we should let go. Truth is, you need to stop fixing your child’s boredom today. Trust me, being bored is actually really good for your child. Really!
Being Bored Is Actually Really Good For Your Child. Really!
The first time you respond by saying, “Okay” instead of listing off options, your child is going to be confused. Up until this point in their life you’ve probably done your everything to make them as comfortable and happy as possible at all times.
But that isn’t always your job. As parents one of the important lessons we teach our children is how to be at peace with their own company. How to live in their own skin. And if kids don’t ever experience boredom, they never spend any time in the quiet of their own existence. Not that they have to stay there, mind. This isn’t a punishment…you’re simply allowing your child to find the peace that comes with living.
Think about it: if you’ve ever gone fishing, do you go so that you can pull fish after fish out of the water? I mean, yeah, that would be fun, but part of the fun is sitting in nature. Breathing in the fresh air. Listening to the lap of waves, the hum of nature, the silence that comes from maybe letting all of your problems go…at least for a little bit.
This might seem like a very adult experience, and maybe too much to expect from a child, but think about your own childhood. Think about the time you spend digging dirt in the yard. Or watching dragonflies waltzing on the wind. Think about those weird adventures you took where in your brain you were Certain you’d find something amazing at the other end. THOSE are amazing childhood memories. Were you an inventor? Were you more an explorer? A builder? How did those experiences influence who you became as an adult?
Kids who are always mentally and physically occupied never get the chance to have ‘Eureka!’ moments. If their lives are filled with screens and activities, where is there ever a chance to power down?
More than that, if every moment is filled, how do they learn the patience that comes with pauses?
Again, children don’t need to be bored all the time. They don’t need to live in a completely distraction free world where they have to live as monks. But accepting that sometimes life is quiet is something that will help them become stronger, more powerful adults. There is power in being able to exist. If there wasn’t, we wouldn’t spend billions of dollars on yoga, and meditation, and retreats to let us experience that small quiet.
So give your kids a gift. Let them experience it now. Let them be bored. Tell them that being bored is ‘okay’ and see if, maybe, over time, they end up finding happiness in the quiet.