With Labor Day now behind us, for all intents and purposes, summer is over. When I look back to the summers of my youth, I fondly remember my mom ignoring my brothers and me as we complained of having nothing to do. Ok, ignoring may be a strong word, but I distinctly remember this being her favorite catchphrase: “If you’re so bored, I’m sure I can find something for you to do.”
Usually her ideas never involved a weekend jaunt to Disney World.
A recent article in USA Weekend by Ann Pleshette Murphy proposes that boredom is actually a good thing for kids.
Offering children plenty of extracurricular enrichment can be a good thing, but too much of it can lead to stress. In fact, 41% feel stressed most or all of the time because they have too much to do, reports a recent poll by KidsHealth. Research also shows that enforcing boredom, or opportunities to daydream, produces brainwaves associated with creativity. When kids have a chance to sit with their thoughts — not while playing a video game, watching TV or doing homework — their brains benefit in ways that enhance other kinds of learning. And being able to calm yourself and de-stress can have lifelong health benefits.’
Kids’ lives are too packed these days. In most cases, I see one of two scenarios creating the problem: Either the parent signs the kid up for every activity under the sun in order to live up to some sort of psycho super achiever status, or… the parent is too lazy or too concerned with trying to be their kid’s friend to set appropriate limits. Murphy suggests that parents make downtime a SCHEDULED family activity and also limit computer and TV use. I know, I know, crazy suggestions. And when kids come to you complaining about boredom, she advises you not to rush to fill the void. “Provide art supplies to young children, let kids start a family photo album, and give older ones a journal or tape recorder to chronicle their thoughts.”
And if all that fails, I’m sure my mom could find something for them to do.
[tags]summer, busy children, stressed kids, USA Weekend, downtime, Ann Pleshette Murphy, boredom[/tags]