Updated: Oct 29, 2020
For many, this statement feels like nails on a chalkboard!
These two words "I'm Bored" make us particularly cringe when we have finally found some time to ourselves whether that is to get a task done or to take advantage of some much-needed self-care. Or worse, after we just spend the last couple of hours together having loads of fun!
Ever since my two kids were able to put together these two words, I have always had the same response for them.
"That's because you are not using your imagination"
As time went by and the kids got older, my answer remained the same though it was both shortened and shaped slightly in the form of a question;
"Are you using your imagination?"
I did this for a few reasons:
1) I'm consistent with my response so that kids already knew what I would say, but would ask anyways.
2) As the kids got older they want coles notes in exchange for our attention (particularly if they don't like what they are about to hear).
3) When you pose the answer in the form of a question, you are 'throwing it back in their court' a term I used often, which encourages children to not only think about the problem but for a solution as well.
Taking notice of how they were able to resolve their own challenge of being bored, will encourage and increase the likelihood that this will happen again not to mention provide you with an opportunity to connect and learn what they created. found making something out of treasures they found in the recycling box, painting with items other than a paintbrush or their fingers, building forts or explore the dirt in the garden. Other times it was as simple as colouring or listening to music while playing lego in bed... You get the idea.
**It's important to note that if we encourage our children to use their imagination, we should still be placing boundaries in two areas:
1) Safety for themselves and others
2) Respecting others, along with their belongings
What happens when your provide them with that answer is that they begin to think outside of the box, they begin to listen to what their bodies want to do in that moment.
The trouble is that when we are so busy and structured we find ourselves lost when the calendar doesn't have something written down on it.
Society has changed a great deal since you and I were children, the novelty of waiting till our birthdays, Christmas or a special event to receive something or earning items has been replaced with instant gratification. It's important to have free time and to be bored, as it allows our body to hit the reset button. It allows us to identify what we are enjoying and should keep as well as what does not bring us joy and should therefore eliminate.
It also allows us to be more grateful and appreciative of all the things were a capable of doing, when we put our minds to it.
One final note, there is nothing more heartwarming for your child to hear then...
" I loved the way you used your imagination to (fill in the blank)"
Taking notice of how they were able to resolve their own challenge of being bored, will encourage and increase the likelihood that this will happen again not to mention provide you with an opportunity to connect and learn what they created.
Not to mention providing them with an opportunity to practice the life skill of problem-solving ;)
Sylvia Corzato is a parent consultant & behaviour coach, and owner of Success in Steps. With over 20 years of experience supporting children and their families, Sylvia provides parents with tailored support and strategies to help them understand the 'why' behind the behaviours along with 'what' is maintaining them.
Her mission is to enable parents to be the driving force behind reaching and maintaining their family goals.