Parents these days are fed this rumor that their children need to be busy and stay busy. Sports, music lessons, tutoring, and other after school activities. Every minute of their day needs to be accounted for. If they come to us with the usual "what do I do now?" or "I'm bored" then we need to be prepared with a list of things for them to do or else we are not good parents.
Rumor has it that children need to stay busy, or they will...
- Be lost with nothing to do
- Never get into a good school/university
- Have too much time on their hands = opportunity for negative influence = drugs
- Not find their interests if they don't try different activities
- Feel neglected
My favorite: Children need to stay busy or they will be bored.
Somehow this becomes the parents' fault. As if being bored is an enemy that we need to protect our children from or we've failed them.
This rumor needs to be busted.
Children can, will, and totally should get bored. Boredom is good for kids. It opens up doors to creativity, resourcefulness, and problem-solving. It also helps them learn about and feel comfortable with themselves.
I am not saying neglect your children. You still need to be around in case something goes wrong and they need your assistance.
What I am saying is that sometimes it is good for them to experience boredom and figure out their own way out of it.
Where we should draw the line is at offering them a clean, safe space with developmentally appropriate items to explore freely. This is where a parent's responsibility ends, and the child's responsibility starts. Children should then figure out what to do with this space.
One last thing, leave them alone!
Unless they get in trouble and need your assistance, please do not stop to teach them or show them how to work with a certain tool or play with a specific toy. Actually, do not interrupt them at all. Just leave them alone for now. You do have other things to do, right?