Tearing your hair out every time you hear that familiar whine from your child - ‘I’m bored’? Relax! Here’s how you can drive away your little one’s boredom.
By Hannah S Mathew
It is a general misunderstanding that boredom is the bane of your child’s generation. This is because boredom is often translated as his need to watch videos and play video games. In truth, these forms of entertainment only produce in him an insatiable need to be entertained.
Whether it is longing for passive entertainment or other reasons such as a lack of direction, constructive activity, planned time or companions that drives your little one to boredom, it’s time to take the necessary steps to remedy the situation. First of all, you should remember that boredom is more frequent among two kinds of children: the lazy and the brilliant. The former wants to have fun the easy way and the latter finds the way to fun too easy! So, you need to cater for the needs of both.
Depending on your child’s personality and interests, put together a jar or list of boredom busters for your child. Treat it as a go-to for every time that boredom strikes. To begin with, here are a few tips to drive away your child’s boredom.
1. Expansion of the imagination: Imagination is more important than knowledge for your child because it widens the applications of knowledge. When he is bored, encourage him to tell tall tales, parody his favourite song or nursery rhyme, enact plays with his toy figurines, create a recipe and make musical instruments with art and kitchen supplies. In these ways he can stretch his imagination to new levels, learn to do more with less and explore the extent of his imagination.
2. Progression of genius: Kid-friendly encyclopaedia, children’s dictionaries and books for general knowledge and vocabulary building are available in wide variety these days. These provide constructive and curious reading to fill in your child’s time on a rainy day. Knowledge is always power and an extensive vocabulary is always a blessing. Boredom can also be used to perk up her problem-solving skills. Coming up with probable solutions to problems in relationships and on environmental issues is a healthy way to further enhancing her intelligence.
3. Encouragement of mindfulness: When he is bored, ask your son to practise selflessness by using his time and resources for another’s benefit. Making bookmarks or greeting cards for the grandparents, helping siblings to organise their things, lending a hand to a neighbour and helping a friend study are fine ways to cultivate selflessness. He could also take this time to introspect and self-evaluate with regard to personality traits and behavioural change. He might require your guidance here.
4. Cessation of monotony: Her everyday routine, humdrum of homework and other rigmaroles can cease when spurts of boredom are used as opportunities to savour nature during walks in a garden, do a blindfolded taste test, play darts or finger-paint. Utilise boredom to break away from the norm. Breaks in monotony can help her resume regular tasks with greater enthusiasm.
5. Involvement in long-term projects: Almost anything can be a long-term project. Encourage him to take pride in his ‘work in progress’ - a collage, water-colour, book of jokes, scrap-book or other DIY projects. Long-term projects not only keep his boredom at bay, but also develop his ability to sustain interest for long periods of time.
6. Enrichment through hobbies: She might take a liking to philately, rock collection, ant farming, origami or ball-room dancing. Let her make her own choice regarding what she might like to work on as a hobby. There are very few better ways to beat the boredom blues that are as good as a hobby. These afford plenty of room for the honing of interpersonal skills, team-building, leadership qualities and an artistic bent of mind.
7. Instilling responsibility via household chores: Episodes of boredom are always occasion for him to contribute to the general upkeep of the home and garden. These are ways to teach him to share work and be responsible. Granted that his childhood is a time for play, but it is also a stepping stone to becoming a responsible citizen. It also grounds him in the reality that his parents can use his help and that his work is valued and needed.
All said and done, you need to face the fact that your child’s boredom cannot be avoided entirely. Occasional bouts are inevitable. Expect her to feel bored occasionally and don’t let her whining get the better of you. ‘Monkey see, monkey do’; so, get set to model how to embrace boredom and she will imitate you. As Jon Kabat-Zinn, the American scientist and writer, said, “When you pay attention to boredom it gets unbelievably interesting.” So, the next time boredom raises its ugly head in the house, you’d better put a bridle on it and make it work for, and not against, your child and you!
Hannah S Mathew is a freelance teacher, trainer and certified diagnostic counsellor
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