As parents, we just want what’s best for our kids. We heard so many times, that we should keep our children occupied and stimulated. And if we have kids who we see as very active, never calm, and never sitting still, then we might feel as occupying them more is the best solution. But it’s not.
I believe that kids need time to get bored. That out of boredom great creations can emerge. That time spend with their own thoughts is the time of self growth and development. Now, I don’t mean zero stimulation. I just think that kids now are overly stimulated. We get them toys. Lots of toys. Activities, sports, art classes and play-dates.
And where’s the time to imagine things? To get really bored and out if this boredom, to decide to do something creative? Not a craft that was guided by an adult, with all the pieces already prepared. Something made entirely by the kid, imagined, and designed.
When will they have time to invent an imaginative friend? Play with shadows, sticks and rocks? Get boxes out of recycling and build a rocket out of it? Paint whatever they feel like painting?
None of that can happen if we plan our kids days from the early morning to late evening. If every weekend they have swimming and art classes, and soccer three times a week. If we always prepare their crafts, and hand them pre-cut pieces. If they don’t need to put any effort in entertaining themselves.
[bctt tweet=”The lack of free, unstructured time can actually cause irritability, and inability to focus, sit still and play for hours with the same toy.”]
So it may be that without realizing it, we raise overstimulated kids . The lack of free, unstructured time can actually cause irritability, and inability to focus, sit still and play for hours with the same toy.
So what should we do to avoid that? What if our kids are used to watching TV in the afternoon, if their playroom is full of toys and if they still come to us and say that they’re bored? ( yes, I’ve been there, and heard that, standing in front of a room full of after-Christmas-new-and-beautiful-toys, aka, useless objects!)
Should we get them new toys, invent activities and crafts? I believe that no, we shouldn’t. Here’s what we could do instead:
1. Purge the play room.
Put one-third of their toys in the basement or in a closet, and start making toy rotation. Too many toys at once and too much choice, confuse kids and results in them not knowing what they want to play with anymore. It makes it harder for them to devote themselves to one play, because seeing all the other toys just makes them switch from one to another.
2. Encourage unguided crafting.
Instead of always preparing a craft theme and a plan, give your children the craft box with one simple instruction: create something. Anything. Use all that you want. And we’ll clean later.
3. Encourage imaginative play with unconventional toys: Exploration Basket and an Inventor Box.
Exploration basket is perfect for babies and toddlers, and Inventor Box is perfect for encouraging creativity in older kids. Both are inspired by Montessori approach. And what’s so great about Montessori ? It inspires children to learn while creating, discovering and playing with simple, every day materials.
So if you have a baby or a toddler set up a box with natural elements, and every day objects, and if you have a preschooler or even an older kid, set up an Inventor Box for them and encourage them to actually invent something!
What you’ll need for an exploration basket:
– a box or a basket
– natural elements, like pine cons, smooth rocks, feathers, small and smooth birches, shells, etc..
– kitchen accessories, like wooden spoons, small bowls, little bottles and caps to match together, measuring cups, etc..
– recycling materials like toilet paper rolls etc..
What you’ll need for an inventor box:
– a box and cardboard boxes in various sizes
– tape, scissors, rope
– old cell phone, or any other unused electronically pieces (obviously nothing sharp)
– kids tools
– recycling materials, like paper rolls, tubes, egg cartons etc..
– measuring tape, pen and a little notepad
4. When kids say that they are bored, don’t come to the rescue!
Let them experience boredom, because out that state of I-don’t-know-what-to-do, some great solutions and inventions can happen. But if you see that they are getting in to trouble because of it, then do as parents used to do in the past: engaged them in hause duties! Cleaning and helping you in the kitchen can be either a clear signal for them to find something to play with before you find them something to do. Or it can be a fun way of spending time together, an activity that helps your child feel capable and valuable. Either way, they shouldn’t be bored anymore!
5. Less screen time.
I know, it’s though. Not even for kids, but for us, adults! I must admit, I do love to cook alone, while my daughters are watching their favourite show. But, I’m restraining that. Instead, I decided to invite them to the kitchen with me, while I cook, to look, help, stir and mix. And if they won’t want to, they can play nicely ( they better do!). I decided to cut their screen time in almost half. For us that means three times a week 45 minutes at a time, instead of five times a week. Whatever is your norm, cut it a bit. (Especially before going to bed, as screen light really stimulates!)
6. More time spend in the nature.
Nature has a calming effect, not only for adults, but for the kids alike. Try spending time outside with kids as much as possible: nature hints, forest hikes, beach afternoon, all that has a beneficial, calming and re-sourcing effect! And if you’re living a busy, city life, try spending more time in your backyard, on a city stroll or at the park!
I know that putting all of these changes in to action want be easy at first. But with less stimulation, toys laying around and screen time, and with more unplanned,unplugged and creative playtime, your kids will concentrate better, focus more, and in the end, won’t be bored as much!
( And if you’d like to read more about overstimulating kids and babies, click here and here. )