Are we being too eager to see our children blossom?
Are we adamant that they get exposed to a wide variety of sports and activities to discover where their gifts and talents lie? Or do we really need a place for them to be occupied while we work on afternoons and weekends? Do we prefer not to have to entertain them ourselves?
Some of these are reasons for putting our children into too many extra-curricular activities.
I just want to caution well-intentioned parents that having our children involved in too many structured activities can be depriving them of good, old, genuine unstructured playtime. It has also been concluded that too much involvement can lead to them feeling pressured and then to anxiety.
Research shows that children’s brains need down time, day-dreaming time, time for their imaginations to spark, time for their brain to negotiate with playmates, time to create, explore, de-stress and process emotions and experiences.
This special free time allows self-discovery to take place, discovery about their passions, stirrings of their heart, their gifts and interests. They have time to become doers not just followers of instructions and restricted to rules of games and activities—which, don’t get me wrong is very important but within reason.
Everything created and invented was first imagined. Creativity emerges from the imagination. There is no time to engage the imagination when, from morning till night, their time is structured.
Screen time is structured time by the way. The mind does not freely dream or imagine while engaged with a screen. As I stated in a previous article (CN, August 4), screens are seductively stealing from us; stealing time during which we could be building and nurturing our precious relationships and among other things, opportunities for creativity to blossom.
What do we do when children say they are bored?
We can start by giving them a hug and one-on-one time to connect and top up their emotional buckets. When they feel satisfied, they will most likely pull away to entertain themselves. If not, then you can offer to have them do a quiet activity near you or to get involved with what you are doing.
You can find hundreds of ideas to create a Boredom Buster Jar on the web or better yet have your kids create one with you, filling a jar with ideas of things to do when bored, ideas they had forgotten about, buried in the busyness and distractions of daily life.
By the way, my favourite response to “I’m bored” is: “Great! I can find chores for you to do!” It’s amazing the ideas that emerge from our subconscious when we are mindlessly doing certain chores. I have had many an inspiration while folding clothes or at the kitchen sink and scrubbing floors and walls.
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