If you walk through a grocery store, you'll probably see a
kid playing on his phone, trailing behind his mom, unaware of his
surroundings. At a restaurant, you may notice children watching
movies on an iPad as they wait for dinner.
Have you noticed that your own smartphone is full of games
for the kids "just in case" they have downtime and
need to be entertained? I get this. I also hand off my phone when
my kids are antsy and I'm feeling busy.
But right now it feels like we are over-using our
technology to fill all open time, as if boredom is the worst thing
that can happen. Even a quick car ride necessitates a movie rather
than an opportunity to stare out the window.
Our kids are learning, even being encouraged, to fill up
space with shows and games, and they are missing out on essential
Occasional boredom is actually a great thing. It is our
opportunity to relax and reflect on our lives; it is when our
imagination takes over. Boredom sparks curiosity and
Why don't we let our kids be bored? Probably because we
are uncomfortable being bored. Even in the midst of a meaningful
conversation, we feel compelled to check our phone for emails or
texts, always looking for something bigger and better to hold our
attention. It's an epidemic, a taught inattentiveness that keeps us
plugged in instead of connected to ourselves or each
Too much boredom can be as mind-numbing as too much
technology. We need to find a balance.
Our children don't need to be entertained constantly by us
or technology. They benefit from unstructured time to explore their
inner and outer worlds. They need to practice being with themselves
and finding comfort in quiet.
So the next time your children say they are bored you can
say with authenticity, "Great! Now you can do whatever you want.
What an opportunity!"
I know, this isn't easy, and children may initially seem
annoyed, but in the long run, it will help them tremendously.
Occasional boredom offers an opportunity to daydream, process,
create, revitalize and contemplate, all of which lead to personal
understanding, a calm presence, and gratitude-the things that help
us stay connected to each other.
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.
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