Ah, those lazy, hazy crazy days of summer. Time to relax. But when you’re six or eight or ten years old you’re looking for the action. The lazy and hazy days are not interesting and now, in the middle of the summer, your child is looking to you to solve the problem of boredom. What can you do? Read on.
Child Boredom is Not Your Problem
At some point during the summer holidays boredom will set in for most of our kids.
Parents dread this day because somehow it will become their problem. The child whines, “I’m bored” and then looks up at Mom or Dad with big puppy dog eyes waiting for the solution to the problem.
And so we come up with all kinds of ideas. They could call their friends and arrange to go off to the park and play with them, they could read a book, or they could build a town out of Lego. Read more…….
All good ideas and all rejected by your bored youngster. As a matter of fact, he is no longer bored because he’s playing with you. Life is wonderful.
Kids have always had a moment (or ten) during the summer when boredom rears its ugly head. You want to avoid solving the problem by having them plug in. They will certainly include digital games and activities as part of their summer plans but you want to schedule that so that it doesn’t take over their lives.
So when they announce they are bored, hear them and answer, “Hmm. What are you going to do about that?” It’s their problem, not yours.
The more scheduled your child has been during the school year the more likely they will have trouble entertaining themselves. And yet, down time has real value.
It gives her a chance to simply rest with no expectations of activity. She can sit under a tree and let her mind flow. She will daydream. She might imagine all sorts of wonderful ideas and even start planning her future. Her daydreams can lead to thinking about what she wants to be when she grows up. Or she may simply dream about what she wants to have happen in the next school year. So many of our kids are on a continual merry-go-round that they never have time to consider, to dream or to plan.
Don’t be surprised if a day dreaming session leads her to want to talk to you about changing her extra-curricular activities. This time may cause her to realize she has always wanted to try something new or that she doesn’t want to continue on in soccer.
Downtime also teaches her to learn how to spend her time when there is no plan in place. She will learn what she likes to do rather than what class or activity is next on the agenda.
Creativity comes more often from free time than in the middle of activity. She may come up with a wonderful idea for her play.
Your role is to be supportive once she makes a decision. What if she and her brother decide to take out all their Lego, small cars and figures and create a town? You can provide some space and let them continue the play over a number of days. They may decide to set up a camp in the backyard. Make it a project that doesn’t need picking up every night.
It’s a good idea to have a mix of down time and active time. Sit down each weekend and do some planning. What would she like to do next week? Are there any places she’s been keen to visit?
If possible, try to spend some special time with each of your kids. That can include having them learn how to do some cooking with you or fold laundry. It can also include a one-on-one outing to a concert, for a shopping trip or out to lunch.
Make books available for reading, have art supplies at the ready, be prepared to turn lunch into a picnic in the backyard.
Boredom can be a gift and it’s her problem. So relax, and let her learn whatever her boredom will teach her.
Digital Books Make Parenting Information More Accessible.
Two of my parenting books started as print versions but the third is only digital. The first two are now also in digital format.
For busy parents, digital is often much more convenient. You can pull out your phone on transit, in a waiting room or while holding a sleeping baby.
When we are raising children we know that we need to give them roots and wings. Then we need to consider their particular and unique temperament.
Who’s in Charge Anyway? talks about roots. It provides a clear road map for parent to focus on the tough but rewarding job of raising children to be responsible, self-disciplined adults.
But Nobody Told Me I’d Ever Have to Leave Home talks about raising children to become capable young men and women.
And Vive la Differénce takes a look at different temperaments of children and what that means for child raising.
All three are readily available on my website.
In the summer we think about reading great, fat beach books. But spending a little time also reading about parenting is not a bad idea.
How Can I Bring Kathy to My Community
I offer keynotes and workshops, have written books and have ongoing newspaper columns, books, blogs and newsletters.
And, no matter what the actual topic, they all share a basic value that I call:
P — is a parenting plan
U — is unconditional love
R — is respect for your child as he is right now
E — is encouragement
I look forward to working with you for your professional development, workplace wellness or parenting education event.