You know that feeling when you’ve completed a test or exam way ahead of time and you’re not allowed to leave the venue?  

Are you the person who lies on the desk and falls asleep; the person who counts all the tiles on the walls of the venue; the person who draws all over the empty spaces on the question paper; the person who reads through their answers over and over again; or maybe the person who fidgets and builds towers with their stationery.  Whichever person you identify as, it is probably a reaction to you feeling bored in that moment. 

Synonyms for bored include restlessness, listlessness and dullness.  Feeling bored is an emotion we all feel from time to time.  So being able to deal with boredom is almost a skill we should be developing from a young age, right? 

But lets start with WHY kids feel bored in the first place?

It can come from a lack of rest or poor nutrition (usually from not having enough energy to partake in the task). 

It could also be as a result of minimum stimulation, repetitive activity or a lack of novel tasks. 

In today’s times, our children have become ‘needy’, and are more dependent on parents for their current state i.e. parents guide their feelings, mood or activity. So when a parent gives their child an activity, this is usually coupled with positive emotions. When the activity is not stimulating enough or comes to an end…it becomes the parent’s responsibility to decide what’s next. 

Children have also become accustomed to reward…for all their actions. So when there is no incentive, kids have no motivation to complete a task, resulting in boredom. 

Often children cannot seem to tolerate feeling bored as they have not really been exposed to it.

Some children use the Boredom Phenomena when they find a task too challenging or it requires basic perceptual skills that they should be having for their particular age group. If this is the case, observe their behaviour with other tasks, in both play and schoolwork and that may give you a better picture if boredom is truly the issue. Attention and concentration difficulties may also present as boredom, so be sure to observe whether this persists in other areas. Alternatively, speak to therapists on our website via a ‘VIRTUAL CONSULT’ to guide and advise you 

So, should our children feel bored?

Are we allowing children to feel bored these days? Have we put too much pressure on ourselves to make sure our children are never bored? Have you packed their weekly schedule with so many activities that they never even have a chance of having a dull moment? 

Being bored can lead children to developing imagination and creativity. These skills may be beneficial in teaching them to create their own happiness and might come in handy one day when mom and dad are not responsible for putting together their schedules.   

A common way of dealing with boredom is screen time.  

“Screen time” has almost become a pacifier for when children express that they are bored. It’s no doubt that children in today’s world will grow up with technology and screens.  Whether it’s for entertainment, at school, to complete homework or to communicate, it’s all around them. As parents, we need to try not to ‘give in’ to the pacifier even if it’s the easy, accessible solution.

An outcome of the boredom factor is that children develop resilience. So they will want to complete things or try things and do not give up when challenges are tougher. 

Children (and adults) sometimes just need to BE! We all should have time out to chill and let our minds wander, think our thoughts and get to know ourselves a little better.

Some ways of beating boredom and building imagination: 

  • Keep some toys that are not goal orientated, but rather require imagination like Lego, wooden blocks, 3D designs, clay, kinetic sand, art supplies and so on.  
  • Play with them, coach them by using phrases like “I wonder what those sticks could make”, “What could we use as a nice raft for this army man?” 
  • Have a kid’s table or draw set up with some craft tools available to them.
  • Create a jar full of ideas and call it the “When I’m feeling bored jar” 
  • Outdoors play with no rules. Use a ball and have kids decide what they would like to play. Do a ‘garden hike’ but have them lead the way. Have kids use nature-finds to start or develop a new game

So mums and dads, if you’re a planner or scheduler parent…be sure to include a ‘no-plans’ session a few times a week! And next time your little ones sigh, chin-in-hands and say, “I’m so bored…” you can say to them “Me too…lets go chill on the lawn together!”

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