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Boredom isn't about being bored

14 May 2020
They’ve got more toys than there’s space for, the latest gadgets and gizmos, books and trinkets… so why are they bored? We were really interested to learn how the “I’m bored” whine (you know the one that irritates and frustrates in equal measures) isn’t really about having nothing to do. Read on to find out why…
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Boredom isn’t what you might think it is

‘When a child says “I’m bored” what they are often trying to communicate is “I’m Looking for someone to connect with me but I don’t know how to express this feeling I’m having.” When we meet their underlying need with connection, it fills them up and they’re naturally moved to become curious, creative and inventive.’ – Bridgett Miller
As we head into an extended time of being at home, it’s going to take some adjustment. For most of us, it’s a BIG adjustment, and particularly so for parents who are responsible for keeping their children entertained for who knows how loooooong.
Not knowing how long this is going to go on for can make the thought even more overwhelming (but that’s a post for another day).
What few people realize is, boredom is not so much about NOT having anything to do, it’s more about not feeling inspired to find something to do.
Boredom is usually an indication of feeling ‘off’ on the inside and not being naturally moved to doing anything.
As adults, we know there is always plenty to do, but when we’re not feeling settled emotionally we may drift around and find ourselves standing in front of the refrigerator thinking we’re hungry…when really we’re feeling a bit lost and disconnected. Logically we probably know we don’t need snack, but we still have one because it is something to do and serves as a great distraction from noticing how we’re really feeling. Once it’s eaten, we go back to being ‘bored’.
When our children are bored, they come to us. Not so much because we’re the keeper of great ideas of things they can go and do (although, sometimes we are!) BUT because we’re their people and they’re looking to us to FILL THEM UP WITH CONNECTION.
Knowing this, we can begin to change the way we respond to them by doing this when they tell us they’re bored:
  • 1.
    Remind yourself they’re seeking connection with you because you’re their deepest attachments. (That’s a REALLY GOOD THING!)
  • 2.
    RESIST rattling off a list of things they can go and do by themselves.
  • 3.
    INVITE them to do something with you. Anything with you: chopping carrots, drawing a picture, playing a game, kicking a ball. Anything WITH YOU.
  • 4.
    By not sending them off to ‘go and play’, you’ll be meeting their need for CONNECTION.
  • 5.
    Children who feel filled up with connection will naturally feel moved by inner ’emergence’ which means they’ll be moved to go off and do their own thing…because you’ve given them what they needed…YOU filled them up by being with them.
It’s not rocket science, and it may take a while of you consistently being with them for the shift to start to happen…but once it does, boredom will be replaced with curiosity, creativity and most importantly, their own will to seek out things to do…
Until tomorrow, when they come to you and announce they’re bored!
But then you’ll know just what to do, and how to BE with them.
With love, Bridgett ❤️
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About the author
Bridgett is a certified teacher, has a BA in Psychology and is an authorized Facilitator of the Neufeld Institute in Vancouver, Canada. She is a parent consultant with over two decades' experience of working with children.
This post originally appeared in Bridgett Miller on 29 March 2020