We sometimes hear it several times a day – children’s whining such as “Mum, Dad I’m so boooooored”, especially during forced isolation at home. Some are concerned that their child cannot find activities or entertainment on their own, while others are self-motivated to have more intense or creative fun. However, boredom, if treated in a special way, can be an excellent opportunity for … development!
As parents, we often wonder if we are properly stimulating our toddler, whether we’re keeping up with his needs and whether he has everything he needs. Often, the “boredom” alarm is an impulse for us to search for additional activities or to analyse the child’s activity. However, if for a moment we ignore the whining complaint of “I have nothing to do,” then after a few minutes it usually turns out that boredom passes, and the child will occupy himself. It’s a good sign!
Moment of development
According to the dictionary, “boredom is a feeling of depression, discouragement, caused by inaction, the monotony of life.” It may not be an emotional state of mental comfort, but it can be a really effective catalyst for action. The most important thing is that the motivation falls on the children themselves, not their parents. Boredom often becomes the beginning of the most interesting games and creative activities that the toddler did not know, try or perform up until then. This is a great opportunity to learn agency, influence on reality and creative search for solutions.
Psychologists, in turn, define boredom as one of the best paths to learning and … happiness! It is due to inaction, often conceived by children as boredom, that they may experience a feeling of free movement (i.e. flow), elation or mental soaring.
The road to full happiness
The feeling of a pleasant flow is based on intense concentration and commitment to the action performed with minimal awareness of the world around you and the feeling that time is flowing. It is characterized by freedom from fear and anxiety. The activity carried out in the flow state is undertaken for the very experience of it. Although this process sounds complicated, for children this condition is something completely natural; they experience it during play, observation or experimentation. It can occur while building things from blocks, playing house, and even throwing objects – full freedom. Fun is an activity performed for the sole pleasure which is derived from the activity.
During play, the child does not focus on the goal (unless we are currently practising this activity with him), rewards, punishments or possible results. Children’s flow means being completely lost in pleasure, which is caused by just performing a given activity. Psychologists indicate that children who feel it often learn better, are creative and do well at school. As adults, we should learn from them!
Challenges are important
In that case, how can you encourage your child to put down the remote control and stop mindlessly switching channel by channel? We can draw from the pedagogy used by Maria Monessori, who recommends directing children’s activities to tasks slightly more difficult than his skills, gently raising the bar. The activities proposed in this approach are just difficult enough for a child to learn new skills, but not so complicated as to cause frustration and resignation. In general, we want him to have a sense of control over a given situation despite the high requirements of the task.
To support our child in dealing with boredom, we must be mindful. We must observe what he does when he is bored, guide him, propose something, encourage reflection and set a good example. Remember that everything is created in the child’s mind, we should only be the small spark that helps to ignite the fire of inspiration.