It’s important for every child to be able to feel all of their emotional states. Boredom is one of those. When they struggle to tolerate feeling bored, it can become a real problem. Boredom is a very normal physical and emotional experience so it’s important we resist the temptation to help children to avoid it!
In the daily life of a child, feeling bored is definitely going to happen. Although, less and less nowadays as increasingly we can jump in with something. Often, a phone or a tablet. It’s as if we assume children can’t cope with it. (Or is it us who dread it?)
In reality, without small experiences of boredom and finding a solution. Children will be more inclined to seek to numb or block out the discomfort it causes. Possibly turning to food and technology, or trying to connect with others (can look like arguing!) However, within boredom lies creativity. Without that lull of boredom, children may be in danger of losing their imagination and creativity as well.
For a child boredom can feel like an overwhelmingly physical experience. Especially if they are in the habit of using screens to fill every moment. If they don’t have them to block their inner and the external world out. Then, they suddenly feel their feelings and anything physical that’s going on inside their body, which may be distressing and confusing. . If this is uncomfortable, even unfamiliar for them. Then, like so many adults nowadays, they will want it to stop.
Does this anxiety around boredom have its roots in how stressed parents are feeling nowadays? Demands from the workplace, from social media, from unrealistic expectations to be perfect. To be ‘doing’ and providing experiences and endless stuff for children all take their toll.
Tired and stressed out, its easy to get into the habit with children, (I know I did at times with my son) of just wanting them to be OK. To shut up, and not to bother me right now as I’m trying to…So, we jump in with things, to buy us a bit more peace, quiet, and time.
If children can feel comfortable not doing, or being on things, their natural curiosity and creativity gets a chance to surface. In fact, children are amazing scientists! They naturally conduct experiments as they need to test things out to get how it all works. When you don’t understand gravity or velocity repeatedly rolling and dropping stuff is endlessly fascinating!
As adults our best ideas come in our down time. Out for a walk, lying in the bath, staring into space. Brains and bodies need to just be as that is when they settle and hey presto!
The life of a child should be one of, I wonder what will happen if I… It’s the foundation of learning and fun. Times of not ‘doing’ allow for this.
- Offer support around how that feels for your child by listening to them and gently suggesting possible feelings they may have
- “Are you OK? It looks tough to have nothing to do”
- “What’s it like?”
- “Do you have a plan to try anything out? Can I help with it?”
- Don’t fix it or do it for them, be with them in that place of curiosity.
- See what they come up with.
- Try to go with it in terms of being curious about what that might look like.
- If it’s not possible now, get paper and pen out and draw or write a plan for when you can carry out their plan of action!
Being and feeling bored. Coping with how it feels. Finding something to do. Are important life skills. In the workplace there can be times when work is boring and unstimulating. Even friendships or intimate relationships can seem boring at times. Being able to think differently about it. To know this is normal and not the end of the world is a so important to well-being and to having a great attitude to work and to life.