Boredom for many parents is a scary word. Whenever I mention it to the families I work with I get a physical reaction of wide eyes and nervous, terrified giggles or full-on snorts of disbelief. Anxiety creeps over their faces ,and they shake their heads at me and mumble ‘no way’ or ‘that won’t last long…’ I get it. Kids in an instant gratification age/era is tough! It can almost feel impossible. But I’m here to tell you--it’s a crucial ingredient to growing up.
So, why do I recommend boredom?
Kids dependent on their video-games, TV, iPhone/iPad have become an ever growing trend and problem for many families I treat. Developmentally, a child’s brain is hardwired to gravitate towards high stimulus input from their environment—such as the dings of their games, the vibration of their phones, and the colorful imagery presented to them through the digital interface. This creates an intolerance of low level stimuli such as sitting through class, homework, and family dinners. Kids need to be able to develop a capacity to sit through low level stimuli, but they won’t be able to do this if they have no boundaries around their access to the digital world.
Imagination! That’s right, boredom gives life to the imagination inside your child. With no video games creating the worlds for them, it is up to the child to create and entertain themselves. This may be a challenge at first for the digitally-addicted kid, but give it some time. It is like a muscle they have to train and build up over time. So let your child build a fort in the living room, put a cape on and conquer the grand world of the front yard.
Last but not least, boredom creates long-lasting success for the developing brain. By allowing your child to be bored in their lives, we are giving them the chance to develop a tolerance for everyday life! They will be able to sit through the lecture in class without being disruptive or sneaking under the table looking at their phone. The have the ability to focus in different ways, not just the hyper-focus required for video games or TV. Boredom trains the brain, causing it to develop correctly without seeking additional stimulus to function. On top of that, they will be able to connect to the people around them--family, friends, teachers, even family pets!
So, parents, take a breath, and remember that boredom is necessary, not evil (no matter how much your kid tells you it is). If your child truly struggles with this concept, step in and help. Show them they are more capable than they realize on entertaining themselves. Get them a library card, show them how to help out in the garden, remind them of their neglected art kit gathering dust in the closet, have them play with their siblings or pets, or better yet—get down on the floor with them and play for a little and then let them do it themselves. Trust your child to figure it out—cause we did and we didn’t die of boredom!
PS--Are you thinking of your son right now? Is he kinda awkward, loooves his video games but struggles a bit socially? Would you like to get him away from his devices and more engaged in the world this summer? Well, we’ve got just the thing for him!
Check out our Tween Boys Social Skills Group just for boys age 12-14! It’ll incorporate fun, adventure-based activities with teamwork, collaboration and social skills. Weekly meetings alternate between office and Land Park. Space is limited.
Contact Arielle Grossman today to find out more and reserve your spot!
(Group run by Arielle Grossman, MFT Registered Intern #90359, Supervised by Ivy Griffin, LMFT #51714)
By Arielle Grossman