The inevitable… “I’m bored” / “I don’t know what to do!”
It’s normal for children to feel bored or long for an activity to do at home– it’s a known fact that we humans get bored! Boredom is the root of creative expression, self-awareness and imagination. Parents can often think that because their child is bored they are not doing their job correctly, straying away from their child or lacking in the parenting department. BUT... boredom is a skill that all children and parents should embrace.
You’re probably asking yourself, but Miss Aja, how do I teach my child about boredom?
Embracing boredom is a core part of building problem solving skills, resilience, and creative expression within your littles. It is important to give children the ability to look for opportunities around the house. Sometimes when children are bored they often seek attention from you or get into something they aren’t supposed to. Children look to adults for guidance and prompts! Next time you're stuck for keeping the kids entertained, try giving them a cardboard box, empty recycled materials, and loose parts. Let their imagination go wild and provide the creative freedom for them to take it in their own direction. You can also suggest certain cues to your child that allow them to explore their interests and abilities.
For example, “Ooh! Today we are astronauts. I see you are on a mission to Mars and perhaps your only tools are this cardboard box, these milk cartons and markers! What can you build?!” Get your child excited about the prompt and watch their imagination fly. Children are totally capable of creating what they want with the supplies given!
Well Miss Aja, what if my child gives up right away and gets upset that I’m not playing?
Children long for attention- and rightly so! It’s important that children feel loved and seen.
Turn to your child for approximately 5 minutes, fill their bucket with some snuggles and connect with them. A great way to spark imagination and creativity through independent exploration is to ask questions, provide prompts, and let your child lead the way. Maybe they want to involve themselves in what you are doing. Your child might give you some ideas and that is where you come in to support them in a job they are interested in. “While I do my job, you can do yours beside me and we can get creative together!”
“I don’t know what to do.”
Little do they know, you don’t know what to do either!
“I don’t know what to do either, what do YOU want to do? What do you THINK we could do?”
This is such an important answer when your child asks what to do, this gets their imagination flowing, learning to listen to them and bounce off creative ideas. This is starting the flow of boredom, which is so important in early childhood and in the future. Unstructured play is a skill children learn from adults. We are often working from home, doing dishes and chores around the house while entertaining our children. Boredom stems from unstructured play and can be mitigated by simply asking inquiry questions.
“What do you think we can make out of the pillows and sheets?”
“Do you think you can make the longest train track ever?”
Get children excited about new tasks, or even assign them as a “job”. Children are always trying to explore their boundaries, which creates great independence, creativity, and self-awareness.
Boredom is essential when it comes to development. Children lead towards parents because they think we always have a plan as to what comes next! Being bored gives children the silence in their brain to get the gears going, to express creativity, become task oriented and overall develop a creative process that will stick with them for life. It is up to adults to allow children the space to be bored and explore what that feels like. After showing children that boredom comes when our brains need to create, “I’m bored,” starts turning into “can I do this?”
Hopefully this doesn’t result in destroying every nice thing you have in the house!
Sloane: “What should we do?”
Bea: “Fall asleep in our tent”
Vera: “Okay, Goodnight”
*B, V, and S proceed to make dinner, eat it and go to sleep for another 15 minutes.*
- Aja Bezzeg
Aja Bezzeg is a lead educator and the artist behind Wymbin merchandise. She has her Level 3 in Early Childhood Education. When she isn't in the classroom she is exploring the outdoors with her favourite sidekick: her dog, Kino! Aja warms the hearts of our students through her passion for risky and outdoor play.
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