Few statements get under my skin like this one, because the reality is… there’s a TON to do!
For some of us, these words hit our guilt button.
We feel it’s our fault, and so we must be the ones to correct the problem.
We think that as “good” Christian parents, it’s is our job to entertain our children.
We buy into the lie that says we must be the ones to make our kids… happy.
So we jump into action, finding ways to keep our kids occupied with… FUN.
Regardless of our long work days or the list of duties waiting for us at home… no matter our level of exhaustion or neglected responsibilities… in our minds, our children’s happiness comes first.
You know what?
That’s a bunch of bunk.
It’s also a dangerous mindset. Here’s why:
When we fix the boredom-bug, we send the message that their entertainment is everyone else’s job. They learn that happiness isn’t something they can find on their own. Only others make it happen.
When we fix the boredom-bug, they struggle to find contentment with what they have. They want more, bigger and better as they constantly seek the next best thing in entertainment.
When we fix the boredom-bug, it stifles their creativity. They don’t learn to use their minds to amuse themselves.
When we fix the boredom-bug, they don’t learn the value of slowing down. They become adrenaline junkies who need to be constantly moving to be happy.
As parents trying to raise happy, well-adjusted, God-honoring kids… it’s our job to teach them skills so they can defeat that boredom-bug through healthy, technology-free, creative ways.
“I’m bored” simply means your child has forgotten they have the capacity to entertain themselves. Their imagination muscle has atrophied. And there is nothing wrong with letting them roam the house sighing and moaning, looking for something to do.
Boredom can be the catalyst of invention and creativity.
And when we don’t jump in and fix it, our kids will find ways to entertain themselves… eventually.
Consider these strategies:
Recognize their boredom. It’s a reality, so don’t dismiss their predicament. Say things like, “Oh, I can see that. What are you going to do?” This forces them to make boredom-breaker choices for themselves. It gets their minds working to solve their problem.
Schedule down-time. Let them know it’s not only good, but necessary. This is so crucial for our kids, especially since they are growing up in a world of never-ending stimulation. It develops their boredom-coping ability because it teaches them that a halt in their busyness is okay. And when they lose the ability to create their own organic fun as kids, it manifests as restless adults who constantly want distraction and stimulation.
Set limits on technology. Video games and television are an easy, go-to babysitter while we get things done, but too much freedom can feed their craving for constant interaction and playtime. Our kids need to develop their creativeness through building, drawing, reading, color, or the like.
Brainstorm boredom-breaker ideas together. Sit down and come up with ideas for those times when boredom strikes. Make a list to hang in their rooms or on the fridge so they can check it if needed. Sometimes we need reminders!
Listen friends… we all plan fun outings for and with our kids, especially over school breaks and summer. We have seasons where we’re out and about more than others. It’s fun to play with our kids and hang out together. We should be enjoying these little people while we have them around.
It’s just finding that balance.
It’s teaching them we’re not their playdate or activity director. (Nor is anyone else.)
It’s giving them the down-time they need. (We all do.)
It’s reminding them they have creative muscles that need exercise, too.
It’s setting your kids up for success.
But you know what? This is a radical departure from what our culture is promoting. And many of our children’s friends may be raised with that same worldly mindset of being entertained at all cost.
… That makes it a bit tricky.
Regardless, our children need quiet space from our noisy world.
So when your kids complain about being bored and roll their eyes in frustration… be patient as they detox from how things have been working in your family.
When they beg for a technology-fix or for you to resolve their boredom… remind them of how resourceful and inventive they are.
And when you wonder if your efforts will ever make a difference… ask God to honor your heart’s desire to raise healthy kids with creative minds.
REALITY CHECK: As a mom, your job is not to entertain your kids. Your job is to raise kids that can do it themselves.
©2013 Carey Scott
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