• Carly Rae

Force Your Kids to Be Bored

It’s 3.30 pm and the rush is already on.

“Hurry up Grace, get in the car, you are going to be late for ballet!” I hear my neighbour ordering her six-year-old.

Then I hear another mother across the road yelling,

“Hustle Billy, we need to get to AFL training and your sister has piano lessons too!”

Meanwhile, my three girls are in the backyard playing with ‘each other’. I am probably one of the only mothers these days that doesn’t rush my kids off to loads of after-school activities every day. I call this strategy, “Forcing your kids to be bored”. I haven’t developed a new parenting technique. This strategy was inspired by a lack of money and time.

Of course, like all children, my kids want to do everything from gymnastics to playing the drums, but we only have one car and three children. The girls have always been encouraged to join activities and I do believe there is a place for organised events, like sport and music. These activities are amazing for a child’s development, but I also think over-scheduling can have a detrimental effect on them.

Many of today’s kids are suffering from “sensory overload”. I see it all the time as a teacher and mother. Kids need to be okay with being bored because certain skills can be learned from this process and we know that developing patience will be important when they grow up. I know my three girls don’t like me for it sometimes, but there are definite positives to this method of parental torture.

When my children have a problem at home, they must learn to sort it out between themselves without an instructor stepping in. This is a form of conflict resolution that cannot be learned from organised after school activities. When they want to play sport, like soccer, tennis, and baseball they simply organise it themselves. During board games, fights are few and far between because there is no choice but to get along otherwise that dreaded boredom will set in. Forcing my kids to be bored has also resulted in my kids becoming great friends, which is a bonus.

When a child is not overstimulated and is left to his or her own devices (and I don’t mean with I-Phones or I-Pads), they become more present and alert. They will take in all their surroundings, particularly when it comes to connecting with nature. When kids suffer from boredom it is also the perfect time to start harnessing their imagination. This is when great ideas can be born. My kids have come up with some amazing games by using their imagination, such as turning our toy box into a pirate ship and using my broom as the mast. They use old boxes to make robots and houses and wood to build cubby houses in the back yard.

Yes, there are still times when the kids use their devices and watch TV. I for one used to love to tune into my favourite show every afternoon when my children were younger. It’s called ‘Mums and Dads”. The story is set in my backyard and stars my three girls. It’s very addictive, so I never feel bored when I’m watching it!

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