It is the middle of the summer holidays and across the country many children will be starting to proclaim how bored they are.
I never ever recall saying this when I was young but we had friends on our street and were allowed to play outside for hours unsupervised on the streets. We also had very little money, no car, no technology and limited toys so we HAD to use our imagination…so we did.
It is a different world now. The buzz of the PlayStation the excitement of the DS, the lure of the ipad and the thrills of You Tube mean off screen time and the real world can seem slow and dull. In a world where entertainment is laid on for our kids, when its time to switch off it can seem very grey. They can get listless, bored and easily agitated after their screen time not sure how to entertain themselves? Their imagination and creativity are suffering as a result. So how can we compete with screen time and stop them feeling so bored when they switch off?
Here are my top 5 tips:
- Bring other kids into the mix. I have taken my children to all sorts of places this summer and yet the most giggles they have had have been with friends. Playdates are always fun and other kids often bring fresh ideas with them.
- Invitations to play work well too. Invitation to play are essentially play prompts. Rather than laying a whole activity set out and laid on for your child you basically just leave out a few bits and bobs. These prompts encourage them to think creatively and invite them to come up with their own ideas. A sheet and some cushions could become a den, some egg boxes and googly eyes could become a crocodile. You are simply giving them a creative nudge. You can read more about this idea here
- Making a boredom jar is well worth the 30 minutes it takes to create. You simply fill a jar with slips of folded paper with ideas on. These ideas can range from reading a book, to baking some cakes, to tidying their bedroom or writing to grandma. Every time your child feels bored you encourage them to dip into the boredom jar (without looking) and have a go at whatever idea they pull out. You can find 80 ideas for a boredom jar here
- Get out in nature – the natural world is full of treasures, games, ideas and of course fresh air. If kids are bored heading of to a beach, a wood or a nearby canal will soon change their mood. We collected sticks and fallen flowers and made some paint brushes on our last walk. The time before the children built a den. Nature opens up whole worlds of possibility.
- Largely however if your kids are complaining they are bored, despite your best efforts, I suggest you should mostly do nothing. By leaving your child to be bored once in a while they will have to come up with some ideas themselves. The more they do this the more their creativity and resourcefulness will kick in and actually it should be strengthened with practice.