‘I’m bored’. These words to a parent are like a sting. Sometimes you hear your child say these words and your heart might ache. Afterall, everyone has experienced it and no one likes it. But sometimes it chews you up with frustration – how many toys, books, art supplies, animals, does it take to un-bore a child! You might even feel guilt. Guilt for not providing enough entertainment or time for your little one, or guilt for caving in and plopping them in front of a device if only for a few more precious, precious moments of non-parent duties. If this rings true for you, don’t turn yourself in to Family and Community Services just yet. You are not alone. Most if not all parents experience this to varying degrees. So what do we do when our child utters those words?  

 

what is boredom?

I mean, we all know what it is but what is it really? This ABC article offers insight by leading professor of cognitive neuroscience, James Danckert. He says…

“Boredom is an unpleasant or uncomfortable feeling of being unoccupied. It’s commonly accompanied by restlessness and agitation as well, because you recognise that you have this desire to engage with the world but you can’t figure out what will satisfy that desire.”

It seems like a bit of a pointless emotion, doesn’t it?


why do we get bored?  

For kids, heck for all of us, boredom is actually a positive opportunity for re-engagement and growth.

Social cognition researcher Wijnand van Tilburg explains the evolutionary basis for boredom…

“Boredom makes people keen to engage in activities that they find more meaningful than those at hand.” 

And all the parents cheered….


finding the meaningful

If you’re like me, the world feels solved, right about now. But…your child is still their frowning and drowning in self pity. Tugging at your sleeve, reminding you that they are bored. 

Empathy is what is needed here. You don’t need to solve this problem for them and a lecture on social neuroscience is hardly going to help matters. You yourself have felt bored and it sucks! Tell them this. You can make suggestions but ultimately your child needs to figure this out for themselves. 


caveats

While your child wrestles the boring dragon, there are some responsibilities that you have as a parent. You need to provide your child with creative pathways to take from their restlessness. Age appropriate activities are necessary but this doesn’t mean you need all the plastic toys money can buy. Acting classes for kids is a great way to engage the mind and and to provide children with social competency as well as drama skills. 

Or maybe you need to bite the bullet and lay down some clear and fair boundaries about screen time. While our little media devices are designed to give us regular hits of dopamine, there are significant life skills and experiences that need to be engaged. 

In some cases the creativity might not come to your child. Sometimes they may need that extra bit of help to get reengaged, especially if they are new to the idea or are having their screen time restricted for the first time. Make sure they have access to some arts and craft supplies and don’t be afraid to let them experiment with them. Make sure they have access to an outside area and encourage them to exercise on the trampoline or ride their bike. 

Holiday programs can provide new avenues that you couldn’t normally achieve at home with expert training and equipment. 

To save you googling ‘drama classes for kids near me’, I can tell you that Helen O’Grady Drama offer first rate speech and drama classes for young people. Child acting classes provide that more meaningful creative space that your child’s boredom is yearning for.