“I want to play with the handphone.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because I have nothing to do.”
I can’t remember our exact conversation but I remembered that his response was more amusing at that moment. We had barely sat there for probably 5 minutes and he immediately wanted something to occupy himself.
I tried to convince him that we could play a game. I had in mind some classic hand games like chopsticks or something. But he was quite adamant that the device can only fill his void.
And so he went on to get a handphone from his mom.
Maybe it’s our fault
I admit I was one of those adults who were afraid of letting my kids get bored. When I was teaching, I always tried to plan exciting stuff for my kindergarteners. I would search on Pinterest for new ideas, plan activities back to back, and I hated to let the same toys sit in the corners for too long.
Now, of course, most of the things I mentioned are good. What’s not, is being afraid of letting them be bored. I was afraid that if they were bored, they would have nothing to do. Or that they won’t be learning new things.
But I now found out that I was wrong. Rather, the contrary is true.
Why we resort to the device.
Unlike teachers, parents are stuck with their kids most of the time. It is so easy to run out of ideas for them to do. Besides, we have other stuff to do, and we need our space too sometimes. So yes, I totally get it. It is not easy.
So the easiest and most convenient solution is to hand out the device. Especially when we’re outside.
“Because if we don’t, they’ll end up running around, being a huge nuisance”
So with a tinge of guilt, knowing that too much screen time is no good for them, we ended up handing them our phones anyway.
An easier solution.
But you know what is a better solution? Letting them be bored. Yes, it’s perfectly okay to let them be bored. We actually don’t have to keep them occupied ALL the time. It’s okay to let them be in a period of lull.
We just have to let go of our fear and let them be.
Being bored is good for them
Surprise~ It is actually good for them. It can ignite their creativity and allow them to learn new things.
According to a study, boredom allows a person to seek other alternatives such as obtaining social, cognitive and emotional opportunities.
In other words, when we let our kids be bored, they will eventually find other ways to occupy themselves with other activities.
To put this into perspective. An ant crawling on the ground, carrying a piece of bread- a learning opportunity for children where they can make conclusions from simply observing the ant; that ants like bread, that they are strong animals.
Now, which child will more likely to be interested in the learning opportunity? A child that has nothing else better to do (i.e. the bored one) or the child who is watching a video of kids playing with their new Pokemon toy.
Or if your childhood was during what I call, the pre-smartphone period, you would remember those simpler days when you were playing thumb wrestling with your friends. We resorted to those because we were bored and so we played with whatever resources we have; our hands.
So the next time your child says “I’m bored”, let them solve their ‘problem’. After all, you are training them to be learners and creative thinkers.
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