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Bored No More by Sandra Dodd

Posted by on Oct. 5, 2012 at 12:31 AM
BJ
  • 13 Replies
2 moms liked this

http://sandradodd.com/BoredNoMore

Another homeschooling mom once wrote, "It's a valuable lesson to learn to deal with boredom, just like all other emotions."

Until I read that, I hadn’t ever thought of boredom as an emotion. I liked the idea. When a child comes to me seeking advice on how to deal with any emotional state, I'm flattered and glad for the opportunity.

Traditionally in this culture boredom is seen as a state of sin. "I’m bored" is met by unthinking parents with, "Then mop the kitchen," or "You have a thousand dollars’ worth of toys, you can’t be bored," or "Boredom’s good for you." I believe the VERY common habit of belittling children who use the word "bored" should be rethought (or "thought," since it seems many parents have never considered it carefully but just repeat what their parents said to them).

If a child came and said she was heartbroken would you tell her she was a brat and should clean the garage? If a child came and said he was angry enough to hit would you say, "Then sit down and read a book whether you want to or not"? Wouldn’t you try to help them? It's nonsensical to me that some parents shame their children for saying they are at a loss about what to do next.

The most to be accomplished from punishing or sending bored kids away is that the kids will learn not to go to that parent for advice and ideas.

Sometimes the real message behind "I'm bored" is "I'm little and feeling agitated and vaguely unhappy and I don't know what I can do to get over this uncomfortable feeling. What would you do if you were my age, in this house, on a day like this?"

I think that deserves a helpful, respectful response.

It is rare that my children say "I’m bored," but when they do I walk with them where they are, or to some other part of the house, thinking quickly about what I might have that they have never seen, or haven’t seen for a while. I think of art supplies or games or toys or musical instruments they haven’t thought of for a long time. I scan my mind and the house for things which would provide some visual, auditory, olfactory, or mental stimulation, preferably two or three of those. Tactile stimulation is good too—perhaps the offer of a shower or bath with new/different toys, or different soap or something. Sometimes "watering the yard" (playing with the hose) will do. When a baby cries for no clear reason, parents will often joyfully see whether the baby means "I’m uncomfortable." They’ll try a change of clothes, physical contact, a change of temperature, more air, less air, hot food, cold food, a stroll outside, a car ride, SOMETHING different. Older kids have the same needs, and the expression of that need might come through as whining, irritability, or a claim of boredom.

Maybe it’s not physical need, but intellectual need. Boredom is a desire for input which unschooling parents should welcome. It’s a child saying "How can I add excitement to my life?" This can be a big opportunity to introduce a new subject, activity, or thought-collection.

Maybe it’s an emotional need, and the parent’s undivided attention for a little while will solve the problem. A walk, some joking, a hug, inquiries about progress on the child’s projects or plans or friends might serve many purposes at once. If after a walk and a talk the child is not quite refreshed, you still had that time together, which made "I’m bored" a useful invitation to bonding.

Sometimes "bored" means tired, low on energy, needing a break from conscious thought and responsibility. Arranging a nap, or putting on a soothing video (even for older kids—a romance instead of an action flick, or light drama instead of comedy), leaving a pillow on the couch and herding the rest of the family in other directions might result in an unplanned but needed nap.

I’m grown. I still get bored occasionally. Thinking about why I’m bored and forgiving myself for being bored have helped me assist my children in learning some coping skills they can use in their own lives. I have also used my occasional boredom as a trigger to seek out the kids. If there’s a lull in my life now I should fill it with those children who will be gone too soon.

Welcome opportunities to learn about when and why your child asks for your advice and stimulation. The threshhold of needing the parent will change over time, and parents can really use knowing where it is and seeing the benefit in it. One complaint of parents of school kids is that communications are lacking or are misunderstood. Homeschoolers have the fulltime luxury of the chance to do better. Unschoolers have the added advantage of "counting" every interaction as a learning experience. Self awareness, interpersonal skills, creativity and compassion all come into play when a child and a parent can build an uplifting memory from "I’m bored."

by on Oct. 5, 2012 at 12:31 AM
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Replies (1-10):
htreveth
by on Oct. 5, 2012 at 3:19 AM
Love this!! Thank you. Was exactly what I needed to read!
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KickButtMama
by Shannon on Oct. 5, 2012 at 8:10 AM
I agree with boredom being an emotion...just look at how much their other emotions get involved when they are 'bored'
mem82
by Platinum Member on Oct. 5, 2012 at 11:29 AM
1 mom liked this

I don't really agree with this, actually. I think all children need to experience boredom. It's the well from which creativity springs. Why do we feel the need to constantly entertain our children? That isn't really helping them grow as a person. It's stunting.

I'm not saying chronic, day in, day out boredom is healthy. I do think that if your child, after a certain age, is constantly, constantly saying they are bored, you've indulged the child and hurt their progress. You should take stock of their environment to make sure they have plenty of raw material, not toys, and access to age appropriate art supplies. They should have plenty of books to read or look at. Tell them to go amuse themselves. If they whine that they can't or that there is nothing to do, then you've maybe spoiled them a bit or you need to freshen up your library and art closet.

I'm not saying it's wrong to spontaneously decide to do a science experiment or take a walk or bake cookies. I do think that if you spend your time trying to constantly fill that attention void in your child you will create an unhealthy imbalance and possibly, a brat, not to put to fine a term on that. Kids that are never allowed to get bored, so they could learn how to amuse themselves, developing their own interests and talents, will turn into listless teenagers who may seek out drugs and other dangerous thrill seeking.

SalemWitchChild
by on Oct. 5, 2012 at 11:50 AM
1 mom liked this

I believe in this, exactly. Give the child options and allow them the freedom to choose what to do and encourage their imagination. Kids these days don't seem to have an imagination because their always being guided with projects and told what to do and how to do it. Make sure there are things around the house to do, and let them get to it.

And I don't see anything wrong with teaching kids good housekeeping!

Quoting mem82:

I don't really agree with this, actually. I think all children need to experience boredom. It's the well from which creativity springs. Why do we feel the need to constantly entertain our children? That isn't really helping them grow as a person. It's stunting.

I'm not saying chronic, day in, day out boredom is healthy. I do think that if your child, after a certain age, is constantly, constantly saying they are bored, you've indulged the child and hurt their progress. You should take stock of their environment to make sure they have plenty of raw material, not toys, and access to age appropriate art supplies. They should have plenty of books to read or look at. Tell them to go amuse themselves. If they whine that they can't or that there is nothing to do, then you've maybe spoiled them a bit or you need to freshen up your library and art closet.

I'm not saying it's wrong to spontaneously decide to do a science experiment or take a walk or bake cookies. I do think that if you spend your time trying to constantly fill that attention void in your child you will create an unhealthy imbalance and possibly, a brat, not to put to fine a term on that. Kids that are never allowed to get bored, so they could learn how to amuse themselves, developing their own interests and talents, will turn into listless teenagers who may seek out drugs and other dangerous thrill seeking.


bether89
by Bronze Member on Oct. 5, 2012 at 12:58 PM

 Very interesting.

sheila5745
by on Oct. 5, 2012 at 1:16 PM

Yes I agree,  my child will entertain herself all day, she will read books or draw or play dolls or what ever to entertain herself. She even goes out side to pick the weeds. Hey I don't mind.. Now for my grand kids. Get real they don't know the first ting about entertaining themselves. If adults are there talking, you can be sure one of her kids will be right there if not all 3 of them. They are 12, 10, 8. they have bikes, toy, wii, ds, books, toys. A really good size basement to run play or do what ever in. It seems like my daughter is always going to do something with them or they are clinging to her. So I agree teach our kids to keep themselves busy. Not in the adult conversations. I don't think they have even been sled riding or built a snowman. My child loves that stuff.

 

                                  arguing


Quoting mem82:

I don't really agree with this, actually. I think all children need to experience boredom. It's the well from which creativity springs. Why do we feel the need to constantly entertain our children? That isn't really helping them grow as a person. It's stunting.

I'm not saying chronic, day in, day out boredom is healthy. I do think that if your child, after a certain age, is constantly, constantly saying they are bored, you've indulged the child and hurt their progress. You should take stock of their environment to make sure they have plenty of raw material, not toys, and access to age appropriate art supplies. They should have plenty of books to read or look at. Tell them to go amuse themselves. If they whine that they can't or that there is nothing to do, then you've maybe spoiled them a bit or you need to freshen up your library and art closet.

I'm not saying it's wrong to spontaneously decide to do a science experiment or take a walk or bake cookies. I do think that if you spend your time trying to constantly fill that attention void in your child you will create an unhealthy imbalance and possibly, a brat, not to put to fine a term on that. Kids that are never allowed to get bored, so they could learn how to amuse themselves, developing their own interests and talents, will turn into listless teenagers who may seek out drugs and other dangerous thrill seeking.


usmom3
by BJ on Oct. 5, 2012 at 1:20 PM

 I find that if I indulge them a little when they say they are bored after a little time with me they have no problem finding things on their own for the rest of the day most of the time.

irvinehiker
by Andrea on Oct. 5, 2012 at 1:21 PM

 Love this pespective!!

kirbymom
by Sonja on Oct. 5, 2012 at 1:22 PM

This is a really great article! I love the out-side the box thinking. Its a perspective that should be considered, imo. I'd also dare to say that this involves some of that critical thinking that kids need.  

KrissyKC
by Silver Member on Oct. 5, 2012 at 1:39 PM

I think it depends on age and frequency...

I mean, constantly whining about being bored because you don't want to play independently is a matter of setting boundries in behavior.   I also believe there is nothing wrong with doing a chore or something until the child can think of something constructive to do.  

Yes, it's a feeling a child is having, but it's not a heart ache or an anger issue.   It's a feeling of discontent a lot of the times.   Sometimes, when deciding between playing with their "boring" toys or doing housework instead, a child will suddenly decide his toys, books, etc.. aren't as boring as he is making it out to be.


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