During this pandemic, the totally predictable arrival of BOREDOM should actually be seen as a good thing for important mental and emotional reasons. (This observation isn’t just for kids, by the way.)
Poking around just a little online will unearth a range of short articles for parents and caregivers about the educational value and power of boredom. It turns out that being bored is the premier, totally natural, absolutely essential launching pad for creativity and problem solving.
Boredom is uncomfortable and weighty, lonely and irritating. It often settles in when there is nothing that we WANT to do, because there are always things that we SHOULD or NEED to do. Boredom, when embraced, actually energizes us to do something–ANYthing–that’s creative…anything that’s beyond the should and need to do of course.
When kids become bored, often their first course of action is to bug their family members. They’ll pester their siblings just to get a response. They’ll come to parents on the verge of tears and whining that all the things they think would be terrific to do just aren’t available any more and everyone’s busy doing other things. “There’s no one to play with. There’s nothing to do. It’s all just so unfair!”
My advice: Do NOT take the bait.
An absolutely acceptable parental response to the sad, “I’m bored!” whine can be, “OH! Good for you! That means you’re about to discover something that will lead to great fun! Don’t worry. Give it some thought. You’ll come up with something fabulous! It works every time.”
That may be followed with a blank stare and then perhaps more whining, but hold your ground. Don’t give in. This just possibly is a terrific time to witness the launch of a truly memorable experience that your children will tell their kids about one day.
Some kids have learned a ready defense for boredom. They’ll grab one of the books they recently checked out at the library and find a comfy place to sit or lie down to devour it. They’ve learned that reading is a great cure for alone time and easy entertainment when social play slows to a stop.
Granted, reading can be a short detour and boredom can lurk just beneath the surface leading to more childish moping at the end of a reading session. But as a result of engagement with a good book, kids have added to their mental toy chest. They have more ideas to use as inspiration and for self-initiated action.