I was a guest on a local Shaw TV program called Studio 4 with host Fanny Kiefer. On the website she says: “A great interview is someone spontaneous, down-to-earth, provocative and passionate about their subject.”
When I am a guest on her program I find it easy to meet that criteria because she simply leads a comfortable, friendly conversation and lets the guest expound.
During our recent, on-air conversation about kids and the summer she said, “What about when a kid says, ‘I’m bored’? My response wasn’t as long as the following article but did prompt me to write about the topic for this newsletter.
But first: I am pleased that some of you have decided to take advantage of my trip to Ottawa in close to National Child Day which is November 20, 2010. I still have some time around that trip, so if you are looking for a professional development event, Beyond Childcare program, or a speaker for your meeting or conference get in touch.
I will also be in Montreal in early December and would love to work with you then.
Now, are you bored???
“I’m bored.” Here it is half way through the summer, and the kids are bored. How can that be? With all their toys and board games, with computers, iPods, TV and electronic games; how can they be bored?
Today kids live in such a scheduled and structured environment that they just don’t know how to use free time. During the school year they move from school to soccer practice and to homework with meals fitting between their planned activities. Their parents ferry them from one place to another and they go along for the ride participating as expected. They are used to their parents taking charge of their activities. And you’re used to having them organized for the day.
So what they really mean when they say, “I’m bored,” is that they want you to make a plan. And, most often you do. You run around arranging activities, outings and play dates. Now she’s happy and you’re exhausted. Well she’s happy for only a short while and then she wants more.
Or you start offering suggestions but absolutely all of the two dozen ideas you offer are rejected. How can your darling child reject so many good ideas?
The question you really need to ask yourself is; “Whose problem is it?” Ah, it’s the kid’s problem. After all, she’s the one who’s bored. And her solution is to watch you dance the dance of trying to find something for her to do. But now she’s not bored, she’s busy watching you go nuts trying to come up with a stimulating and exciting possibility.
Her boredom is not your problem. Let her be bored. It’s not fatal. Amazingly after lying around whining for awhile, she’ll start to move. She’ll slowly find something to do and take control of her life. She doesn’t need to have structure every minute of her life. She needs time to dream and relax. She may end up simply daydreaming in the back yard or pick up a book a to read.
Boredom can be a gift and one we should give the kids regularly, not just during school holidays. Children who are scheduled for most of their day miss the chance of figuring out what they want to do. They often miss out on creative thinking because they are following a series of pre-set plans from wake-up to bedtime.
Boredom can become free time and can be the best moments of a child’s day. I know you hate to see them unhappy or have to listen to their whining or watch them simply wasting time. But, for them, it’s all part of growing up and finding out who they are. Given the choice of everything, what do they really want to do with their time?
When they come to you whining, turn to them and smile and say, “I’m sure you can decide what you want to do.” Then go back to whatever you’re doing. If they persist just repeat yourself. When the whining becomes intolerable (which really doesn’t take that long, does it?) ask them to take their whiney voice outside.
My kids tell me that if I offered them the chance to wash floors or weed the garden they often found they could find all kinds of ways to fill their time.
You may find that your children get engrossed in a project. My kids used to collect all their Lego and any small cars and people and built cities. Then they grabbed sleeping bags and pillows and created a fort as part of this city. This could go on for days. They slept there and sometimes they ate there. So, if your child gets involved in a project let her leave it out. Nothing stifles creativity faster than having to dismantle it every two hours just because it’s clean-up time. If it’s a project in process let her leave it and return to it later.
Give your kids the gift of boredom and watch them turn it into creative free time.