These days it seems a taboo to allow our children to be bored. As a kid I remember getting bored and to remedy this myself and local kids in the neighbourhood made our own fun. We weren’t supervised or being coached. The street-lights turning on were our signal to head home and after a quick wash we were eating and then getting ready for bed. Wet days we entertained ourself with cards, colouring or we read a book. Mum and Dad were definitely not their to entertain us and play dates being arranged were unheard of. However, it seems kids today are constantly being entertained, coached, tutored or babysat either by ourselves or some form of computer game. Within my Wellbeing role I am often alarmed at how many of the students I speak with have a full weekly schedule, starting before school followed with long school days and additional leisure activities, often even at weekends. Life is already very busy and this lifestyle seems to become a source of stress for both parents and children.
Are we trying to juggle too many balls?
I have no doubt that the amount of juggling occurs for a myriad of reasons and with nothing but good intentions such as:
- we want our children to fit in with their peers and make friends;
- we want them to have great opportunities;
- we want them to have the best education possible;
- we want them to develop their talents and to express themselves creatively.
Ultimately we tell ourself we want to provide the best for our children and that is admirable – but is it all just getting too much?
There appears to be very little time for our young children and teenagers to be still, to relax, even to get bored. Childhood and adolescence serves a very real purpose. It’s not something to “get through”. It’s there to protect and develop young minds so they can grow into healthy and happy adults. When we deliberately change the natural processes of human social development we could possibly be altering our children’s lives to what we are now seeing as an imbalance within the realms of their mental health.
It is very important that if we truly want to assist our children, the best we can do for them is to try and and give them the opportunities to be less co-dependant on someone else structuring their life and entertainment by providing a balance that will allow more time and space within their weekly schedules.
Its time to take the reins and be in control!
Simply say no. We protect our kids and say no to the continual party invitations, the weekend trips and we also tell our children – No! A short statement but difficult for many of us, as we would prefer to avoid the consequence.
As a result, we recreate regular down time allowing us all an opportunity to have a sense of calm in the busy worlds we live. It provides a release of tension that children know they can rely on and allows them to recover and grow, serving a vital purpose in child development.
We need to become more mindful of what we discuss with our children and allow them the time to be a child, young person or teenager. We need to think more deeply about the content we expose to our children at certain points of their life.
We need to allow them the opportunities to be as they claim ‘bored’ to then allow creativity. Be strong as a parent and say- “I’m not here to entertain you!’
Yes, it will take time but with a consistent approach you will notice a change in your child’s approach to what they do with their time. We need to allow opportunities for those we love to become independent rather than being constantly guided, supervised and entertained. This unstructured time will also give some time and space back to us parents, some time off to take care of ourselves!
Our children have their whole lives to be adults and to deal with the complexities of life, but only a short time in which they can be carefree. Allow them this opportunity to be a child as long as they can – it will be one of the greatest gifts you could give.