You have inevitably heard from your child may times. It comes with a sense of expectation that you should solve this dilemma for them when none of their multitude of toys and games seem to hold appeal.
It can be really tempting to help, by rattling off a list of activities, or drop what you're doing to find a way to entertain your child. Because other than wanting the whining to stop, us parents really don't like it when our children aren't happy.
Here's the thing. We live in an ever increasingly stimulating world. Information is constantly streaming into our awareness, with sounds, video and images bombarding us and our children all day long. Between that and the onslaught of children's sports and after school activities, our children are simply not used to doing, nothing. Here are three reasons why maybe you shouldn't jump to their rescue quite so quickly:
Stillness encourages imagination
Imagination is tightly connected to our creativity and our ability to visualize. All skills which are highly important in our quest to live a fulfilling life. When children are handed entertainment on a platter, they never get a chance to flex their imagination muscle, leaving it underdeveloped. If you could refrain from finding them entertainment, you'd be surprised how quickly their imagination kicks in and results in play!
They learn to just be
I have a feeling this is something many of us parents could improve on too. When we are okay with just being, with being still, with nothing going on, we are inviting a calm that serves us in many areas of our lives. It is a very stress relieving skill, and it also teaches us to be absolutely okay with our own beings. Just the way we are. And that's big. Really big.
When your child expresses boredom it is an excellent opportunity to grow your connection, without the distraction of screens. Start a conversation that allows them to share their feelings and lets them learn more about themselves (and lets you get to know them more too). For example you can say "What is something you love doing?", and then share something you love doing. Invite them for a cuddle or snuggle, because sometimes, being bored is just an expression of needing some connection.
To help your child be okay with boredom, consider checking their schedule and reduce their out of school activities, incorporate some screen-free play time, and set aside time for reading, chatting and cuddles. And lead by example. Let them see you doing nothing (and enjoying it) every once in a while too!
It's certainly not easy to change our habits, and it can be frustrating at first for both you and your child when you decide to not throw more entertainment and activities at your child at the first sign of whining. But when you start seeing the changes that happens in your child it will be so worth it!