I’m bored. These are small, but powerful words. I didn’t let my children say them. That may sound harsh, but I had spent time with children who were continually rehearsing, “I’m bored”. Nothing would interest them. Suggestions for activities were met with “no” or a frown, they flopped around listless and…bored. I decided then, not to allow my kids to say the “B” word and to train them to be self-motived in finding things to do.
My grown children still look for sympathy on this topic. Honestly, I think they just like the shock value of telling people I wouldn’t let them say they were bored. Much to their amusement, this usually results in the person turning to look at me with a questioning or surprised look on their face. Sometimes I just smile and shrug, other times I roll my eyes at my kids and ask, “And?”. Then they confess they are glad I did it or they mischievously say, “What? I didn’t say it was a bad thing!”
Why did I do it?
First, I think regularly declaring you are bored can become a negative habit. Maybe even a lifelong habit. Never being happy, not being able to find something satisfying, always looking for the bigger, more exciting or shinier thing to fill the void. Then, not too much later, when the shiny wears off, they are back to being bored. Second, I wanted them to be able to entertain themselves. Find things of interest to do, be curious, explore, take time to think and dream. Third, I wanted them to be happy with their own company. The person you spend the most time with is you.
What did I do when they said they were bored?
When they were younger, I made suggestions like coloring, Legos or playing outside. I followed my suggestions with a warning to find something or I would find something for them to do (and it wouldn’t be nearly as fun). As they got older, I clearly made my point by suggesting exciting activities like cleaning out the kitchen cabinets or mopping the floors. The smart boys got the hint.
I don’t think being bored even crosses their mind. They are interested in a variety of activities and they are creative and curious. Not bored at all!
It took a little more effort on my part to teach them how to handle feeling bored, but it has been well worth it.
How do you handle the “B” word?
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