LET YOUR KIDS EXPLORE
As parents, listening to “I am bored” from our children sends us into a frantic search of next activity that we can engage them in. Whether we are working, busy in the kitchen or catching up on news, we don’t want our kids to stay idle. But being bored is not a bad thing. Since we are used to ‘engaging’ them often, and our kids have now developed a habit of being structurally engaged in one activity or the other, it is actually a good thing if our kid's is getting bored. It gives them a chance to explore and find new things to do in and around the
house, with or without a person telling them what to do next.
Being bored is good!
Children need to find the quiet to stimulate their creativity and imagination. Boredom helps her/him to do something that she normally wouldn’t do. Boredom allows breathing space to their young minds.
However, it always helps to create a routine that keeps kid's engaged, so that they know what to expect, leaving ‘small’ room for boredom.
Ignore their whining when they are bored, and don’t look for a way to engage them. Your kid's can handle boredom, if you give them a chance. And probably in a way that will leave you pleasantly surprised.
How to deal with boredom?
1. Advance planning
Decide a day or two in advance the activities about the activities you kid would be interested in. Outdoor and unstructured play, if possible, should be mandatory for each day.
2. Limit screen time
It is easy for kids to ask for screens when they are bored, and we turn it on as well. It is important to not give in to this demand, and instead hand them book or puzzles.
The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use by children younger than 2 and recommends limiting older children's screen time to no more than one or two hours a day.
3. Boredom Jar
Label a box/jar as boredom jar full of activity ideas, and next time your kid complains of being bored, ask them to pick an activity from it.
4. Household chores
Ask your child to help you in the household chores when she is bored but make it sound interesting for them to participate without throwing a tantrum. ‘Can you please help mommy load the dishwasher? I seem to have completely forgotten where each utensil goes’ may bring you more active participation than ‘you need to help around the house if you are bored.’
5. Allow the mess
No one likes mess but it helps kids to learn and experiment more. You can lay the ground rules, such as no colours on the walls or no paly dough in the water, etc before you allow them to do whatever they want. Ask the kid to clean up later, or you can chip in too.
6. A day without routine
One day in a week, let the routines go haywire so that your child also gets used to the concept of free time, and so do you. As the day progresses, you can make along the activities or duties.
7. Low-tech toys
While that remote-controlled car might hold fancy of your kid, it is bound to bore them in some time. Buy that car still, if you wish to, but also make toys/pretend toys from things around the house as well. Making a robot/dog house from a cardboard box or puppet from ice cream sticks, etc would engage their minds for much longer. A cape made from your dupatta/scarf would bring more joy to your kid than a superhero costume. Let your child pretend play while she runs around the house, as long as you don’t mind the noise and the child is safe. Shadow play is another game that most kids enjoy.
Music, musical instruments, or a few cups with water that makes different sounds, is enough to engage and stimulate the young minds. Show them how to engage themselves than trying to kill your boredom all the time.
9. Treasure hunt or obstacle course
Another activity that will help them think creatively is the treasure hunt around the house. You can leave the clues around the house for your kid's to reach the treasure. It can be small clues for younger kid's (like blue box or red pin) and bigger clues for slightly elder ones (it begins with M but does not end with N or 0). Obstacle course can be set with cushions, boxes, chairs, etc that will also help them being physically active. Next time, ask them to set their obstacle course herself/himself.
Once your kid's stops being dependent on you for engaging them, your child will start taking initiative themselves whenever they are ‘bored’.