“Mom, Dad….I’m bored.”
Makes you feel put on the spot, right? You might even feel like you’re a bad parent. Most of us pressured to solve this “problem” right away. We usually respond to our kids’ boredom by providing technological entertainment or structured activities. But that’s actually counter-productive. Children need to encounter and engage with the raw stuff that life is made of: unstructured time.
Being bored has become this frightening and dreaded experience to which we parents must respond immediately. Boredom is not up to a kid to figure out anymore, it’s a parent’s issue and a parent’s problem. Boredom is a state that our children shouldn’t have to endure, and allowing our kids to experience it, not taking it seriously, might even be a sign of parental neglect. As we mistakenly imagine it, boredom is a case of a moment not fully lived, a moment deprived of interest.
In addition, we relate to boredom as an absence, something missing. We experience it as a state of nothingness: nothing to do, nothing to think about, nothing to learn, nothing to be with, nothing to play with, nothing to experience. Boredom, as we see it, is emptiness, a void.
As a result of our fear of boredom, we’re encouraging our children to be hyper-focused (not unfocused as we hear), with their attention perpetually focused down on some object of attention. At the same time, technology has created a new normal, namely, constant engagement. With tech has come the expectation that our kids (and even us adults) should be able to live in a state of uninterrupted entertainment and pleasurable busyness, 24/7. Tech makes it possible to meet this expectation by offering a forever-stocked refrigerator of free and interesting food for our attention. We even get to congratulate ourselves for eating around the clock from this fridge, under the guise of learning more, doing more, communicating more, and what we’ve convinced ourselves is the definition of living more.
Boredom improves creativity
Boredom is good for parents too