“Muuum, I’m bored”, he yelled out. The desperate howl of a child who has ‘nothing to do’ strikes terror into parents. Many parents go into overdrive to occupy their child – sign up for art class, gym class, dance instruction or another activity. As parents, we feel the need to fill up any spaces in our children’s lives. But is boredom a bad thing? It’s important for children to learn the ‘art of boredom’. Unstructured time helps a child to choose how they will spend that time, such as observing worms in the compost, drawing pictures in chalk on the pavement, creating a play area out of boxes, making music out of pots and pans or organising the local kids to play. This is a time when their imagination and creativity will shine.
Boredom can also help your child learn the art of waiting patiently and delayed gratification, which are very important life skills. Kids will learn to entertain themselves, so they don’t have to find external sources to fill the void. They are also then less likely to complain or whine when boring situations arise.
Give your child the space to be bored. Their mind is bombarded with images and flashing designs at home, shopping centres and on street signs. So having down time will not only help to calm your child, but they will discover a hidden talent that they could become passionate about. A child will learn to be resourceful and inventive when boredom takes hold.
Have a screen-free time at least one hour a day on weekends and school holidays to give their mind a rest and experience boredom. In some homes, one hour may be an eternity, but structure in some ‘boredom time’ and it will become a habit. Additionally, try screen-free time for the whole family. Children observe what we, as parents, say and do so consider which creative activities you could come up with – baking, scrapbooking, creating and flying a kite, drawing, making soap, reading. The possibilities are endless. Re-visit those creative passions from your own childhood and your children may want to learn from your unique imaginings.
The Northern Centre offers a range of parenting programs that provide parents with the extra skills needed to help with raising their families. Government funding means many of the programs are delivered at no cost. They can also offer childcare for the duration of the program (booking essential). For more information on the courses offered by The Northern Centre you can contact them at:
Phone: 9334 0111
Hours: Mon, Tue, Wed and Fri 8.30am – 4.30pm, Thu 8.30am – 7.30pm