Wednesday, June 11, 2014
ten reasons bored children are a blessing
Summer is upon us. Many moms I know are frantically attempting to figure out what to do with their children who no longer have schoolwork and activities overflowing their days. In this modern world, there is such an astounding fear of bored children. It is as if boredom is some kind of sickness we wish we could vaccinate them against.
But really, bored children are a blessing. If we are strategic, we can squeeze greatness out of boredom.
Here are ten reasons I love to hear my kids say, "Mom, I'm bored!"
10. Work ethic. Bored kids are great helpers. I am trying to work my way out of a lot of jobs. Dishes, laundry, sweeping, raking leaves, tidying up toys.... There is a lot to do, and I had to it all mostly by myself for a long time. One of my friends told me that she heard a person's work ethic is formed between the ages of seven and twelve. My children need to learn the joy of working together on projects, the blessing of serving your family, the skills needed to complete the tasks, and the discipline to do chores simply because they are necessary. Also, they learn how much more fun Mom is when the work is all done and we play together. Win/win.
9. Problem solving skills. Kids are so heavily scheduled these days and over-stimulated by technology that they struggle to develop the ability to think of things to do. Our brains get sloppy after too much television and video games. A bored child is one who faces a simple problem: What should I do now? Someday, it may make it easier for them to make bigger choices, like college majors and career paths.
8. Quiet. Around my house, there is just. so. much. noise. But put us in a car for a long road trip, and once the kids get tired of playing alphabet games and Twenty Questions, there is this magical moment when they just get quiet. They are completely bored. This also happens at home when they have rejected all of our toys, books, and games as tiresome. I find them staring out the window, lost in thought. They are thinking about who-knows-what: sports, friends, memories, school, how awesome their mom is.... Even though I know they will be begging for a movie in twenty minutes, for a little while they are quiet.
7. Conversation skills. When children are constantly whisked from one activity to another, when an electronic device is in their hands, and when they are told what to do all day long, they can miss out on the chance to learn how to talk about what they are thinking and feeling. A bored child who comes to you for advice is learning to process the moment, explain it, and hopefully how to process your suggestions and respond appropriately.
6. Teamwork. Often my bored little people will decide on something to do as a group. They will build a fort, organize a competition, or create a game. They work together to make up the rules and guidelines for playing. This only happens when the provided toys and games have been played so much they want to find something new to do.
5. Free time. Parents in big cities often lament that their children can't roam the neighborhood or go on endless bike rides with friends like they used to when they were young. That freedom to fill time can be created in backyards or bedrooms, though. If kids are given time to fill, they will learn to fill it.
4. Responsibility. We are not responsible for providing constant entertainment for our children. Really. They may want me to do that, but we must resist the urge to take control their attention spans. It is frustrating for all of us at first when they whine and complain that "there's noooothing to doooooo...." Once they realize they like to choose their own activity options, though, they will never want to go back to being scheduled.
3. Books. I don't think my children would read so much if it weren't for boredom. Left with the choice of reading or cleaning off the patio, Boy 1 read The Secret Garden in a couple of days. Go to the library weekly, turn off electronics, and children will read out of sheer desperation. It will be the most wonderful, horrible thing you ever did to them.
2. Identity. We are not raising children, we are raising people. Boredom can be the place they first learn about the things that are important to them. As they learn to problem solve and figure out what they like to do, they discover what they are good at, which leads to passions and callings beyond childhood.
1. Heart connection. In every moment of parenting, connecting with your child's heart is the most important thing. Empathy for their situation, asking if they want advice, really caring about what they care about, thinking of activities to do together, are all ways to do that. At the end of the day, walking beside them as they learn to live their life wisely is the goal. The days are long, but the years are short, and one day we will wish for a few bored children who just want Mom to listen to their woes.