I believe one of the best tricks I learned from my mother was a simple one: when my sisters or I might declare we were “BORRRRED,” she would promptly respond, “Well, there are dishes to be done and I’m sure your room needs cleaning.” Somehow we always found something else to amuse ourselves with.
I used that one regularly on my two boys. The older one caught on much more quickly and was also an avid reader so it fell on the younger one to wear my mantle of there’s-nothing-to-doooooooo. The only thing lacking in the directive of housework was the fact that, “being bored” is not always a bad thing. It could be good for the soul.
Think about it. It is a time of neither knowing what is going to happen nor what could possibly happen. Sometimes that sense of anticipation can spark a creative or constructive flame within oneself to go exploring, or pick up a book, or write a letter, draw a picture, or walk over to a neighbor’s house and start a conversation.
The Puritanical notion that “idle hands are the Devil’s tools” is not really the case if one has enough to eat and shelter and someone paying attention to them. Give your child (or yourself) ideas and tools other than technological devices so that he (or you) may find a new hobby or skill to be proud of — and just see what happens.
It should not always be up to the adult to schedule every waking moment of a child’s life. Yes, sometimes we need to “encourage” them some, but allowing “down time” to daydream and reflect, well, that is something we all need to ensure our wellbeing. Truly.
How do you feel when you realize that your job, your boss, your partner are in total control of your life, your destiny? You’ve given over yourself to somebody else’s whims and, gee, you’d rather spend an hour taking up knitting or just watching the birds in the yard.
I believe being bored is perceived as being “non-productive,” which is entirely unfair. We have become so connected, so multi-tasking, so go-go-go that we don’t have time to breathe. I’ve heard that 90 percent of all health issues are created by stress. No doubt. And so, a healthy state of boredom could be a lesson in delayed gratification as well as building critical thinking skills.
When a child starts whining, perhaps you can ask him what he may make out of some materials you have on hand, to join you in your current activity, to simply sit quietly and listen to the sounds around him, to the feelings of things around him, the smells, and maybe make a movie in his head about it.
Encourage daydreaming. Yes, that is what I’m saying.
Stem the bleeding of always jumping online to stimulate thought; teach them to let it come from within.
And when all else fails, threaten them with housework.