Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday Feature: Why Be Bored?

On a day when the news is anything but boring, it may seem odd for me to be posting about boredom, but, in fact, psychologists recommend a healthy dose of boredom -- at least for kids:
"Your role as a parent is to prepare children to take their place in society. Being an adult means occupying yourself and filling up your leisure time in a way that will make you happy," says Lyn Fry, a child psychologist in London with a focus on education. "If parents spend all their time filling up their child's spare time, then the child's never going to learn to do this for themselves."
Although this is the last thing un-bored parents want to hear, perhaps summer is the time to re-evaluate our own boredom -- or the lack thereof. Personally, I can't remember the last time I was bored, but that's due, in large part, to accomplishing exactly what Fry suggests -- filling up my leisure time in a way that makes me happy.

Does your leisure time make you happy? Do you even have any leisure time? One of the ideas suggested in the Quartz article is sitting down at the start of summer and making a list with your child of all the things they want to do. One summer, when my daughter was small, we created a bingo board for this purpose, filling in squares with camps and day trips and activities. Then, when she got bored, she had a resource to go to. We couldn't always manage an impromptu trip to the beach at 3pm, but that taught the value of planning ahead.

We adults might want to try something similar -- but no fair listing chores and projects. While "paint the kitchen" will certainly alleviate boredom, it belongs on a to-do list, not a summer fun list -- unless you're someone who loves such tasks. In a perfect world, our down-time dovetails with our kids' bored time, enabling us to entertain and enjoy one another.

Until that happens, you're bound to hear "I'm bored" a few (thousand) times. As you send your kids off to play outside, check the list or find a toy that inspires creative play, remind yourself you're building life skills.

Or maybe you should pull out a coloring book and join them.

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