Blitzing the boredom this Summer
Parenting coach Elaine Halligan explains how a Boredom Buster jar can help ease the pressure from you and enable your children to have more fun this Summer.
The thought of a summer holiday by the beach is a mere pipe dream for many this year. Ordinarily you may really look forward to the school holidays – ditching the routine, sleeping in a bit later, no home schooling hassles for a while, and dreaming about getting away to warmer climes.
But this is no ordinary summer. As we enter into Phase 3 of Lockdown here in the UK, exactly how we play entertainment director, driving kids to some sort of activity, organising play dates whilst maintaining the 1 metre + distancing rule, or devise things for them to do at home (despite the fact that we have work to do too) is anyone’s guess. Just the thought of it may fill you with panic and dread.
Or do you end up abandoning your good intentions and let them have even more iPad time all while wondering how on earth you are going to get them detoxed from screens? Inevitably, many of us have let our kids have more time on a device over this lock down period, already recognising that this short-term solution to save our sanity may cause a long-term problem.
“our children don’t just need less screens, they need less adult organisation generally if they are to be able to think for themselves.”
But our children don’t just need less screens, they need less adult organisation generally if they are to be able to think for themselves. It is only in moments of quiet when they are not engaged in structured play, whether on a screen or not, that children learn to think for themselves and be creative.
Get your children used to thinking for themselves in these 5 ways:
- Don’t answer all their questions. Instead turn the enquiry back to them and ask them what they think. Often a question is not really a genuine request for information but a bid to connect with you. Smile and engage with them. Get them to really think about it before turning to Prof Google.
- Don’t tell them what to do all the time. Instead have written routines and charts that record what they need to do. These should be created with input from the children. Direct them to those. This reduces the amount of nagging you’ll do. Yes, I know you mean to remind them, not nag, but that’s how they hear it.
- Provide them with creative playthings. Ideally kids should have toys which allow them to create their own narrative or build their own structures or devise their own games. Obviously pencils, paints, beads, fabric and modelling clay encourage free expression but so do building blocks without a designated outcome of a specific vehicle or structure. (Consider Lego Mixels)
- Develop a culture of tolerance for mistakes. There are no wrong answers and not just one way of doing things.
- Value their ideas. Ask them for their opinions and acknowledge their feelings.
So if you hear the dreaded words ‘I’m bored’ what should you do? When my children did that I would be delighted and tell them that was wonderful as their brains would now grow! Yes, they found it irritating too. How much help your children need to get their creative juices flowing will depend on how old they are and how much they are in the habit of thinking for themselves. Do empathise with them but don’t take over. Instead before the holidays arrive or as soon as possible have a family meeting to brainstorm some ‘blitz the boredom’ ideas.
Develop some rules about electronic usage in holiday time. But it’s not enough to limit your child’s time on a screen – you have to have alternatives.
One thing we have found to work really well is have a Boredom Buster jar filled with ice cream sticks. On each one you write down one idea for things to do, generated by or with the kids. Then when they say they are bored these ideas will help to jog their thinking.
Here are just a few suggestions:
- Make a kite and fly it.
- Build a bird box
- Go round the family/neighbourhood and ask each person for one joke to put in a joke book.
- Create an obstacle course in the garden and have family Olympics.
- Build a pillow fort or den
- Do a dance challenge
- Establish a regular board game night – check out https://www.thedarkimp.com for a free game download
- Make paper airplanes and race them
- Make parachutes out of hankies and tie them to pegs or little figures and drop them over the stairs
- Make a house out of a cardboard box
- Write a short story or comic book
- Make a colourful baking soda volcano (look it up on You tube)
- Indoor gardening or plant a herb garden
- Decorate a tee shirt
- Make glass lanterns out of jam jars, food colouring and paste or glass paint ( old nail varnish make great glass paints)
- Make your own modelling clay
- Have a water pistol or balloon fight outside
- Make a healthy smoothie or make pizzas
- Make a family tree with photos
- Create a family journal with items for each family member like dates and place of birth, favourite colours, songs, foods and activities, best skill and any funny of meaningful stories.
So get creative. Get the kids thinking and remember you are only limited by your imagination!
Elaine Halligan, Director of The Parent Practice, author of ‘My Child’s Different’- delivering practical solutions to enable parents to bring out the best in their children
To find out what’s on for parents to help you have more harmony at home check out our What’s On page and The Parent Practice Podcast on Apple Podcasts. https://www.theparentpractice.com/events-calendar
In this Summer Coaching Comment issue:
- Inclusive Leadership – Why & How
- Three Practical Ways to Support your Wellbeing During Change & Uncertainty
- Daily steps to Support Health & Mitigate the Impact of Stress
- ‘Couples that Work’ – How to Thrive in Love & Work
- SWOT to help Your Transition out of Lockdown
- The Parental Fog Index Report 2020
- ECC’s new ‘Shifting the Needle’ Podcast : Flexing Leadership Styles with Harriet Minter