Can My Child Survive Boredom? Part 2
This is part two in a two part series on the benefits of boredom and how to use this time to increase mindfulness skills over the summer.
In last week’s blog post, I discussed the benefits of boredom and how we can use it to facilitate some mindfulness practice over the summer. This week, we’ll dive into how to support time for boredom while still providing safe and appropriate boundaries.
How to Create a Daily Schedule
Kaari Vasquez, M.S., CCC-SLP, Dallas based Speech Pathologist offers some suggestions on how to build a small amount of structure around “unstructured” time. “For younger children, boredom unlocks the potential for creativity. However, for children with executive functioning challenges, parents may need to first provide this time of ‘boredom’ within the context of structure. For example, creating a predictable routine for your day with specific times set aside for ‘free play’ will help reduce anxiety for your child because they know that this unstructured play time has a beginning and an end. Free play time may look like sending your child outside with a spray bottle or a shovel, giving your child recyclable materials and markers, or just letting them decide what they would like to do by themselves or with a sibling (be sure to hide electronics!).”
How to Schedule Boredom (Creativity) Time
Decide on a time each day (preferably the same time of day if possible), and let your child know that during this specific block of time, it will be for him to use as he wishes. If your child seems particularly stuck as you start this process, perhaps you gather some materials and books and place them in a basket so the choices are narrowed down. You may find over time that the creative ideas start to flow and your child takes more initiative as Vasquez mentioned above. Boredom time doesn’t have to be solitary. It can include siblings, friends, and neighbors. You may find that more heads put together add to the creativity. It will be important for you to keep an eye on things, especially in the beginning as children are learning the boundaries of their time of exploration and creativity.
Helpful Tips (To Make Your Life Easier!)
Many children will benefit from a visual support for their daily and schedule. You don’t need fancy software or leaps and bounds of creativity. If you can create a table in word (5 or 7 days depending on what works best for your family), you can grab a few clip art photos from free websites and place them in the chart under each day of the week in the order that the events will take place. This will provide reassurance for children who may be uneasy with unstructured time and schedule changes.
Together You Are Researchers
If this feels overwhelming, pick one small thing and start there. Start small, and start where you feel like you can all be successful. Know that things won’t flow smoothly on the first few tries. Most of all, consider yourself and your child as researchers. If you eat dinner together take just a few minutes to reflect on how the schedule or boredom time are going. Some possible conversation starters might include:
I’m so curious to hear how you spent your time today!
What did you enjoy about the free time you had?
Will you do the same thing tomorrow, or do you have different ideas?
If you think you need supplies or materials, how can you be resourceful to find them in the house or outside in the backyard?
I’d love to hear how your boredom time and daily schedule are going. For more support or resources, or to share any thoughts you have, please contact me at Holly@ThinkHappyLiveHealthy.com. Remember, modeling what you are asking your children to do is one of the most powerful ways to spark curiosity and to get buy-in for a change you are asking them to make. See if you can curious and set aside a little Boredom Time for yourself!