Boredom and kids, that dreaded rainy afternoon when everybody gets restless and there is nowhere to go. Cabin fever sets in and the TV or iPad becomes a very tempting afternoon entertainment option (for everyone), even though it goes against that ‘screentime’ rule you and your partner agreed upon.
What is boredom? Can it have actual benefits? Boredom in kids refers to a feeling of restlessness, disinterest or lack of stimulation. Children usually experience this when they have nothing to do, or when they are engaged in an uninteresting or repetitive activity they do not want to do. As a result, boredom can lead to frustration and irritability, translating into the dreaded undesirable behaviors such as whining, clinginess and tantrums. Part of growing up of course, but can make it a very long and stressful day for parents!
But did you know boredom can have some benefits too? A natural part of childhood, five ways it can benefit kids are:
- Encourages creativity: When children are bored, they are more likely to use their imagination and come up with new ideas or activities.
- Develops problem-solving skills: Boredom can motivate children to seek new ways to entertain themselves, which can in turn help develop their problem solving skills. Very handy for grown up life!
- Builds resilience: Being bored helps children develop the ability to tolerate uncomfortable situations and builds resilience. Want to know more about resilience and why its so important? Read about it further here.
- Improves self-awareness: Boredom can help children become more self-aware and reflective, which can lead to a better understanding of their own interests and passions. Great for future decisions and general happiness.
- Fosters independence: Boredom can encourage children to learn how to entertain themselves, which can foster independence and self-sufficiency.
But in the meantime, kids must learn how to deal with boredom. And although perhaps in the moment a rainy day does not seem like an opportunity, it really is! So how can you embrace the challenge and manage boredom in kids? Here are three key tips for helping them stay engaged:
- Provide activities based on their current interests: Observe your child and really try to notice what they are currently interested in. You can start but trying out several different activity options, and watch what really keeps them engaged and entertained. Depending on their age, activity options at home can be: reading, playing games, drawing, doing puzzles, going outside or craft work. Once you notice what works best, you can offer options around the same topic.
- Get them involved in household tasks: This may work best with younger children, but giving them responsibility in the home can have a double advantage. A clean house and an entertained child. Win win! Depending on the time of day, this could be to help with cooking (peeling, washing, measuring, etc..), sweeping or vacuuming around the house, hanging up laundry.. This will not only keep them occupied but teach them a very valuable life skill.
- Plan outings: Take your child on outings such as a walk in the forest, playground, even to the supermarket! Before your outing, you can also help them prepare the food list, pack a backpack, read a book about it, etc..the list is endless! This way the outing provides entertainment, and so does the preparation.
Remember, its ok for kids to be bored sometimes. Although it can be annoying, it can also promotes great life skills such as creativity, self-awareness, problem solving and resilience.
How do you keep your kids entertained on a bored day?