Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Are Your Kids BORED? How to Fight the Boredom Blues!

This past weekend after taking a great trip to the Ontario Science Centre, watching a movie, having the kids play outdoors for hours with their friends, and going to swimming lessons, the kids were still BORED!  (Yes, that’s BORED with a capital B there.)  How could this be possible, especially with all the non-stop activity and mental and physical stimulus?

I couldn’t help but take a trip down memory lane to my own childhood.  As a child, I would play outside all day long, only coming indoors for meals.  All the neighbourhood kids would congregate together to bicycle ride, visit the playground, roller skate and have a very exciting day together.  It always seemed to be suppertime already, and there never seemed to be enough hours in the day to fit in all the activities like jump rope, lemon twist, hopscotch, hand games and more.

Inside my family home, I was directed to play in my own bedroom until dinner was ready.  There was no playroom, or other “common area” rooms of overflowing toys in the house.  You would never find a stray toy in my parent’s bedroom.  I was most often able to entertain myself, and when I could not, my mother would make a suggestion that I would happily accept such as reading a book, playing with my stuffed animals and toys, or listening to a record.

When it was a rainy day, I was allowed to invite a friend over or go visiting to a local friend’s home.  If no one was available, it would be my big brother and I having scavenger hunts, playing board games and launching toy cars down a homemade ramp.  Television was a special privilege for us, and we had to earn the opportunity.  My brother and I could read comic books for hours!

How the times have changed!  Every room in our home is bursting with toys and books, usually strewn haphazardly and underfoot.  Television is no longer the main draw to the kids, but the iPad, iPhone, laptop and the various videogame systems are the new replacement.  My kids think that somehow it is my husband’s and my responsibility to entertain them!  In my own generation, my parents never played the role of entertainment clowns, so how have today’s parents somehow fallen into this role?

How did this happen to our kids, and why does this seem to be the case of so many children nowadays?  But more importantly, how to shake up this generation of BORED kids?  Here are some of my suggestions, below.

Get PhysicalMost kids seem to be at their best when they are staying physically fit.  Whether you enrol your child in a weekly sport like swimming, soccer or gymnastics, or simply bicycle as a family through a nature trail.  I find that unless the activity is structured, my kids will not go out of their way to get physical, so do schedule physical activity into each and every day.  Exercise is great for the whole family too!

Get SocialDoes your child have peers that they play with regularly during the school week or on the weekend?  If not, have your child exchange phone numbers with a classmate and set up a regular play date.  Having neighbourhood friends definitely makes socializing easier, but there are some great FREE play groups in which you can register your child through your local municipality.  There are groups for kids of all ages, from babies to teens!

Work the Brain!Let’s face it, homework is designed to reinforce skills learned at school but it does not always exercise your child’s brain.  Make sure that your child has access to books that he or she enjoys, and set a time aside for reading.  If your child is very young, this time can be spent flipping through picture books, or the older child can read to herself.  A trip to the library or browsing through the plenitude of FREE e-books is time well-spent.  Jigsaw puzzles are also a great way to work your child’s brain—and works great on a rainy day!

Make a ProjectThere is nothing more industrious than a child working on his or her own project!  Yes, this does require some adult supervision to help your child select an appropriate project and source materials, but it definitely does fight the Boredom Blues!  Does your daughter like fashion?  Have her design and create her own doll clothes using common materials.  Does your son like science?  Have him build his own cyclone, after laying his plans down in writing!  The same can be said for making a playhouse out of a cardboard box by your little architect, a bird feeder out of a 2L pop bottle by your aspiring ornithologist, or an abacus out of some strings and jewellery beads by your clever mathematician.   
        
Do your children entertain themselves?  What activities keep them engaged to fight the “Boredom Blues”?

This article was written by me, Jenna Em, and appears in the Wednesday October 17th, 2012 edition of the Kuklamoo blog.

9 comments:

  1. My kids can play on their own for short amounts of time, but they are pretty young still - and personally, I DO think that parents should be playing WITH their kids at the age my kids are. My parents played with us a lot, but we still were able to entertain ourselves when they weren't with us

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  2. yup, I know this feeling, house full of toys and still bored. I wish we knew more families in our neighbourhood for the boys to get together with.

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  3. When I was little I was like you...always outside playing with the neighbourhood kids. We were out early in the morning and as you said, only came in for meals and "when the street lights came on". When inside we also always entertained ourselves by playing school, reading, board games etc. Things have changed and even though my kids are now grown, I still find myself spoiling my children and that's not necessarily a good thing!

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  4. Great tips! It's amazing how many toys my son has and he still gets bored of them!

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  5. It's funny how kids are so bored these days with so many options to them. I remember when I was a kid I made the mistake of saying "I'm bored" to my grandma and she made sure I never said it again.

    Love the great ideas you shared to keep your kids busy!

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  6. My would always give us a cleaning rag if we said we were bored.

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  7. Great tips to beat bored. Like many parents here, I'm surprised how easily kids get bored given the amount of toys and electronics they have these days. I'm starting to believe less is more... maybe it's just too overwhelming for them to make a decision and pick something to do. I'm gonna test out this theory soon on my 4 year old. HAHA!

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  8. my daugters great at entertaining herself. but being a only child she gets lonely quite quickly. And that s when I pull out one of our awesome learning thngs o do.

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  9. Great tips, Jenna! It's exactly what I need! I'm trying to get prepared for the summer months when I am expected to hear the kids mutter the words, "I am bored, mom!"

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