We live in a time where we have constant access to things to keep our minds occupied. Our favourite shows can be streamed on demand and social media and our phones are an endless source of entertainment. The predominant lifestyle is one that is busy and overscheduled. All of this can be true for our children too, as we fill their weeks with ‘extra-cirricular’ activities and more. This all functions in providing our brain with a consistent source of dopamine, meaning our reward systems are used to being continuously activated as and a result, we continue to seek that constant reward system activation day in and out.

What this can mean is that we have little opportunity to be bored.  Boredom can and is a foundation for creativity and problem solving. Our brains are biologically wired to seek novelty and new ideas, in order to engage our brains rewards system. However the implications with our modern lifestyle and acces to technology, is that we become passive in the process. The sources of novelty are external and provided for us, reducing the need for that innate drive to seek out new-ness, problem solve and express creativity.

Allowing ourselves and our children to be bored, fosters these skills. It is in boredom that we have the spaciousness to connect with our internal world, whilst also rolemodeling the importance of slow living to our children too. Here are some tips for navigating boredom with your children, so that they have access this spaciousness and their innate creativity.

IS CONNECTION NEEDED

If your child frequently comes to you with complaints of boredom, perhaps they need support to fill their cup through connecting with you. Have a cuddle or be playful then try to prompt thinking through empathic but neutral language – more on this below.

HOLD SPACE

Feeling bored is an uncomfortable feeling. It can bring up sensations of restlessness or even frustration within the body.

Having our children come to us and say “I’m borrrrred” can be a trigger for us as parent too.

As a result, we have a fairly emotionally charged scenario just like that. Recognise your own triggers and practice grounding your own feels of frustration so that you can respond, not react. Then consider responding to your childs feeling of boredom like you would any other feeling, through empathy and holding space. Empathise with your child and support them to move through the feeling, without necessarily solving the problem for them. Remain neutral in your response, perhaps by stating “Oh you are bored, I wonder what you could do?”

SCHEDULE SLOW

When planning out your week, ensure you have plenty of unscheduled time to allow for boredom and child led play. This slow time can begin with babies too. The more your child has opportunity to think of creative ideas, the easier the process will be for them over time. Being busy and constantly feeling the need to be productive, isn’t an innate behaviour. It is something our children learn through cultural expectations and role modelling, but we can unteach this and role model slow instead.

SHIFT THE ENERGY

Considering opening the windows or doors, move some furniture, play music or ignite a scent. Be a curious observer of your child’s energy, perhaps they are restless and needing to move their bodies. In such case you could say that you are going to sit outside with your book and ask if they would like to join you outside. This way you are encouraging outdoor play without making direct suggestion as to what specific thing your child does.

One final note is that if you are in season of tranisitoning away from or reducing screen time in any way, it is completely normal for your child to more frequently complain of boredom. Their bodies and minds will be in a transition period as they now have less of that constant reward system activation and time, empathy and gentle encouragement will support them to reconnect with their innate abilities to be creative.

Boredom, creativity, child led play and grounded parenting are all things that I offer more intensive support with, within our course Raising Play – join the waitlist as enrolments will open soon!

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