Friday, January 22, 2016

Mom, I'm bored

There is a phrase that echoes across every household on the weekends. It is intolerable to parents. It is ridiculous and annoying and insidious.

"Mom! I'm bored!"

In our household, I normally hear this phrase after I tell my son that he has had enough screentime for the day. It is his go-to reaction if he doesn't have any toys that he immediately wants to play with. Forget the fact that he has Legos and Hot Wheels and puzzles and crafts and books and an imagination and lots of other things to play with. You can't point those things out to a child who is bored. A bored child can't see past their own boredom.

It turns out that boredom is interesting to scientists. So interesting that they are starting to study it. Evidently there is no accepted clinical definition of boredom, but for the first time, scientists are finding a way to classify it.

Of course, the studies are filled with adults. But I feel that a child's boredom and an adult's boredom are completely separate states of being. Boredom as an adult is linked to true listlessness and light depression, even a loss of purpose. As a child, boredom is mostly connected to a loss of possibilities or being denied the one thing that they want to do.

I think that some boredom is good for children. In our household, a little boredom can go a long way - far enough for my son to think of alternative activities. And in that case, boredom breeds resilience. So, I wait for the after effects of the common complaint of "Mom! I'm bored" Because that is when creativity happens.

What do you tell your children to do when they are bored? Share with me in the comments.

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