Periods of unstructured time are really important for kids, giving them the freedom to do what they want.
But sometimes, it is not that easy.
Sometimes, “boredom” takes hold.
👉 When left to their own devices, kids sometimes become unsettled and discontent.
👉 They might become “whingey”, saying “I’m booooored”, looking to you for an answer.
👉 They might complain that, “There’s nothing to do”, but not feel open to any suggestions that you offer.
Often, the advice is to leave the child to figure it out, reassuring ourselves that it’s healthy for them to feel bored once in a while, and that they’ll eventually find something to do.
However, I believe that when kids get into this uncomfortable state, it can stem from a painful sense of DISCONNECTION, both from us and from themselves.
So leaving them to manage this state by themselves might not truly be meeting their underlying needs, even if they do find something to do, and could leave them feeling lonely and isolated.
In my experience, a quick dose of connection with a parent can go a long way towards helping kids to feel resourced enough to entertain themselves, by putting them in a better state to:
🌼 Just “be”
🌼 Generate ideas
🌼 Feel open and inspired
🌼 Feel confident to try out ideas
🌼 Focus and concentrate on their task
🌼 Have the flexibility to move through obstacles
One way we might offer kids connection when they’re in one of these “bored” states is to simply offer our warm attention, and empathise with how bored they feel and how difficult it is for them to find something to do.
Another way to give our kids that hit of connection, which I personally find can be much more efficient, is to play with them, particularly games that elicit laughter. It might be a game of chasing or a pillow fight.
Including an element of power reversal, where we act like the less competent one (slower, weaker, silly), and allow them to feel like the more powerful one (faster, stronger, wiser) can really amplify the effect.
💥 These high energy games can be so efficient at filling our kids up with our love and attention.
💥 They can help them to laugh and offload any tension they might be carrying.
💥 They can leave kids feeling more calm, content and comfortable in themselves.
Now, we might be afraid that if we play with them every time they’re bored, they’ll expect us to play with them all the time. And of course that isn’t what we want for them – or for us!
We probably really want for them to have the capacity to play, explore, and create things by, and for, themselves. And that is a totally reasonable thing to want for them.
But in my experience it can take just 5-10 minutes of this kind of play to shift kids into a state where they are more able to think creatively and concentrate on their own.
So, next time your child moans, “I’m boooored”, consider whether you can spare a few minutes to fill their love tank and get them fuelled up for making their own fun.