Monday, April 7, 2014

Coping with the School Holiday "I'm Bored" sydrome

" Yes, Kids love technology, but they also love Legos, scented markers, handstands, books and mud puddles. It's all about Balance"

K.G. First Grade Teacher

These school holidays, how can we  create Balance in the lives of our children?

In a recent interaction with a certain 5 year old boy, it became apparent that he was eating constantly, because he was "Bored!" . The  child was also displaying attention seeking behaviours by yelling, punching, screaming; fighting and arguing with his brother; annoying the family dog and being dependent on electronic devices and Grown-Ups for constant entertainment and stimulation.
Later that same day, I took the two brothers to the beach with the dogs, as I lay in the shade listening to the waves and smelling the salty air, I pondered the solution to the "I'm Bored" syndrome. How can I teach kids to be comfortable with silence? How can they learn to be internally content without external entertainment? How can I encourage children to be engaged in a self-guided, unstructured exploration of LIFE and themselves, independent of ipads and DVD's?

It was then that I noticed the two boys independently engaged in creative play and exploration... silently, individually playing with sand, pumice, sticks and inner-journeying through imaginative games.  They were quiet, happy, discovering new worlds and natural treasures; they were deep in exploration of the natural and sensual  world . They were  deploying their senses; they were meditating.
I'm noticing that often parents and carers are  responding to their kids' boredom by offering entertainment in the form of technology or structured activities ( "Lets go to the amusement park"). This can actually be counter productive. Children need to encounter and engage with the raw stuff that makes up life... they need to be able to be content with unstructured time. 
  If we constantly keep children stimulated with structured tasks and  screen entertainment, they begin to loose touch with the movements of their inner heart and become disconnected to their bodies. They start to eat when they're not hungry, for example.

When children say that they're bored it's often because:
- they're so used to screen time and are experiencing withdrawal-like symptoms
- their days are filled with structured time and they're not used to finding ways to have fun, in their own way/time.
- they've become dependent on parental attention;  They've developed a  neediness which their well-meaning parents have conditioned into them

Children learn through play. Children are happiest when they play. Play is children's work.

From my experience, even the most needy of children, if given the opportunity  and the time, will usually find some really interesting stuff to do.

Just like a  Family "Gratitude Jar", whereby members of the family  write down on strips of paper, things that they are grateful for.. you could have a Family "Boredom Jar".  Inside this Boredom Jar, you could collectively come up with some  activities to do when  your child is bored. When they say "I'm bored" they could pull out a  couple of the suggestions and give them a try in order  to alleviate the "Boredom".

The activities could be:

Create an obsatcle course in the back yard.
Make up a song
Make up a dance
Wash the car
Ride your bike
Do Yoga
Run around the back yard 5-10 times.
Do 30 seconds of star-jumps
Craft activities
Brush the dog
Read a book
Reorganise your bedroom
Create an adventure land in your bedroom
Build a cubby house in your backyard
Build a fortress of pillows and blankets
Start a collection of leaves/rocks/flowers
Weed the garden
Make up a story
Make up a board game
Throw the ball to the dog
Star Jumps, Pushups, Burpees.

Let me know your suggestions and ideas!!

Happy Holidays!!!

 x tash

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