Encouraging our kids to bust out some creativity during their boredom can pay off huge dividends.
Parents: It’s not our job to fill every minute of our kids’ day with stimulation and entertainment. We are not cruise directors. When our kids complain that they are bored, resist the urge to “fix it.” Remember the pacifier? Instead of turning on the TV, handing over their phone or driving them somewhere, let them be bored. Sit back, relax and watch what they come up with….full article
But, how do we do that without using media when we are constantly surrounded by it?
What if I told you that our brains need about 15 minutes of inactivity, or boredom, in order for it to stir up something creative and original?
Believe it or not, watching TV does not actually engage our brain because the work is being done for us while we are entertained. On the contrary, reading a book does engage our brain. Exercising also engages our brain. Do you ever get random, creative thoughts while working out? In the shower? While driving? I do, all the time. According to studies, it’s because your brain is forced into creative and critical thinking, using multiple parts of the brain.
I’ve overheard conversations with people saying that there’s nothing to do for toddlers in this town. Nothing to do for who?
Our four-year-old LOVES to go to the playground! Heck, even our seven and eleven-year olds love the playground! They are super excited for the simple things. It’s because we’ve taught them to appreciate the simple things.
Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Such striving may seem admirable, but it is the way of foolishness. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life. Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples, and pears. Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them. The extraordinary will take care of itself.
~ William Martin
Take heart in the small stuff.
Maybe we’ve allowed so much of everything hip and new because everyone else is doing it, that we’ve missed the beauty of the simple things? Those tend to be the things that are taken for granted because they get lost in the shuffle of everything fast and exciting flashing before us. We’ve become a generation that is de-sensitized to extraordinary things simply because the ordinary has been overlooked.
We all know that it can’t be good to have too much screen time, but we’re struggling with getting around it. Did we know that giving a child too much screen time can create even more frustration when the screen time is gone? When their brains are constantly being entertained by screens, and then the screen is gone, even a tantrum may take place. The brain begins to crave this constant entertainment and movement of the eyes so much that it can become an addiction.
We live in a time where boredom doesn’t happen often enough because we constantly have screens in our faces. If the screens are in our faces and we don’t have enough opportunities for our brains to think on their own without being constantly fed, the creativity factory shuts down, and the brain craves to be entertained instantly. This could be why my son acts the way he does if he gets too much screen time – cranky, irritable, and doesn’t even eat. It’s the over-stimulation. His brain is craving that constant stimulation.
But what about educational screen time? It’s somewhat in the same category as entertainment, but we still give it the same limits. It has the same effect on the brain, as for stimulation. Then, when the child tries to sit in a classroom to listen to the teacher, it’s too boring – it’s not enough stimulation.
Give limits. We all need limits. This protects their time and their precious developing brains. Send them outside. If they kick and scream because you took away the device for a little while so their brain can breathe, remember that you’re doing them a favor. They can only scream for so long. Send them to their room so they can scream all by themselves. As Dr. Kevin Leman would say, “Screaming and tantrums need an audience, so remove the audience!” That’s you, by the way.
“But I can’t get my kids off of it. They’ll be mad.” I hear too often from parents that they just can’t get their kids off the devices and the video games.
Who’s the boss again?
Repeat after me: I am the parent. I am the boss.
Take it away and send them outside! I’d much rather our children get in trouble for leaving stuff out in the yard and having them pick it up, than getting in trouble for a promiscuous text conversation with a school-mate because they’re always on their phones!
They are being robbed of their childhood, and parents are the ones handing them over to the thief. The sad thing is that they’re being introduced to the screens earlier and earlier, and the screens are being use as babysitter for too long of a time period (I’m guilty).
Gen X parents like me were raised without today’s structure, supervision and stimulation. We devised our own amusement; we created games, skits and songs, constructed forts out of blankets, built houses of cards and played outdoors for hours. Sound familiar?
We KNEW how to be bored. It was in that quiet space and stillness where we became imaginative, inventive, introspective and inspired — where we became ourselves.
When kids actually have time to be bored, creativity and innovation emerges and they might just discover something new about themselves. …full article
This is one thing that Ernie and I agree on when it comes to our kids. We want them to grow up with as much as the same childhood activities and principles that we did and even our parents did. Handing over a video game console only to keep them “busy and out of our hair” could be destroying this generation’s creativity.
Let them be kids and get in trouble for what kids get in trouble for. Let them make dirt pies, homemade bow-and-arrows, and climb trees. Hide and seek never gets boring. I’ve seen what lots of unstructured play time can do for our kids, and I have to say, I couldn’t really believe it until I saw it.
Many times, they need to be shown how to be creative. Some kids are just naturally creative, but some are not. Showing them a few simple things that they can do on their own will stir up natural creativity in them. As much as we may have been told otherwise, creativity can be taught. We can teach them to think outside the box.
Remember, these are not things to do with them when they are bored. These are things to do with them just because. Spending quality time with them on a REGULAR BASIS fills up their love tank, and therefore, won’t have them pulling at us so often if boredom strikes.
This simply teaches them to take notice of the treasures right under their noses.
1. GO FOR A WALK
Pick some flowers (and smell them), find some colorful things, listen to the birds chirping, watch the sunset, learn about trees, insects, the bayou, shapes in the clouds, etc. It’s endless!
Whether they act like it or not, our children want US. Even though they may act like they want something or someone entertaining them all the time, whether it’s YouTube Kids or Disney Jr, it DOES NOT make for an equal replacement for quality time with us as parents.
Just taking a little walk and pointing out a few things in nature will spark an interest in knowing more. Heck, we ALL need a walk anyways, right?! It opens their senses to nature around them – the nature we so often take for granted.
Pack a lunch, and go on a picnic!
2. DRAW OR PAINT WITH THEM
No, you don’t have to be Leonardo DaVinci in order to draw or paint. It may not come out perfect, but it can be fun for both of you. Most people have a pencil and paper somewhere. Draw silly faces of each other and see how much you laugh.
If you don’t have any art supplies, you can pick up a very short list of cheap supplies, such as watercolor, paper, pencils, crayons, and markers. It’s also fun to use what you have around the house – no need to spend a fortune on this.
For more drawing activities, there are tons of YouTube videos for this and simple art books at the bookstore. But, there’s no need to buy this when you could also rent them for FREE from the library. Which also leads me to the next point…
3. VISIT THE LIBRARY OFTEN
If you haven’t been to the library in a while, it’s time to go back! Sad to say, but I didn’t step foot into our local library until I started homeschooling in 2016! Maybe that’s you, too.
If you didn’t know, your local library has FREE activities going on ALL the time! Crafts, story-time, kids’ activities and events, etc. Check out books with material that interests the kids, even if they don’t like to read. Lay them out on the coffee table, and you never know, they just might pick one up. My sons love fishing, outdoors, and sports. Sometimes, I check out books on those subjects, lay them out on the coffee table, and I’ll catch them reading one day (this took a little while to stir up interest, but now they are enjoying reading things that they like!).
This picture is a miracle straight from heaven that makes my heart SO happy! This boy went from a child who hated to read, to a child who loves to entertain his brain with facts and reading things he enjoys…
But, it all started with cultivating that interest in the ways that I’m explaining.
4. EXERCISE & STAY ACTIVE
Signing them up for extra-curricular activities is not what I’m talking about here. We can put them in things all we want, but is that what makes them want to be active? I know kids who are in all kinds of activities, but they don’t work on things outside of those activities. Activities, such a organized sports, are not necessarily a bad thing, but we shouldn’t rely solely on that to keep our kids active. Free play is where their imaginations soar.
Stretch together, and do some safe workouts with the kiddos. If you make it fun, they will want to do more, even when you’re not doing it with them. Set the example you want to see in them. If you are unsure how to do certain workouts with the kids, there are many videos out there for instruction.
Ever since they were babies, I’ve been active with them. Laying on my back with my knees up, I would ride them on my feet and workout my quads and thighs by raising them up and down and watching them laugh! Once they got old enough (about a year old), I would raise them up and flip them over my head to do a flip, landing on their feet while I’m still holding on. My youngest is 4, and she still enjoys this!
I truly believe that this is part of why our family is so active – because Ernie and I are, too. They see us working hard and making it a priority, and they want to be a part of that. Encourage them to set goals, and set some for yourself, too! For example, start with 10 push-ups, and work your way up to 2 more per day. Before you know it, you will meet your goals and everyone will be stronger and healthier.
People ask us all the time how we get our kids to be active and stay motivated. This is how!
While some believe that you can’t teach motivation, I believe that you can. No, you can’t MAKE someone do something, as in, you can’t make a horse drink, but you CAN set the example that others need for their own motivation. Some of us are natural motivators, and some of us need motivation. This may be surprising, but those who are naturally good at motivating others still need motivation too! I have to constantly listen to podcasts, sermons, etc. to keep myself motivated in different areas of my life.
5. START A JOURNAL
Even if you or your child does not like to write, this is a WONDERFUL exercise! You really don’t have to do that much writing if you don’t want to.
You can start a nature journal as well. It’s simply a binder that contains whatever you’d like – things from nature, drawings that contain things you’re learning at the moment, or writings that speak of anything you’re interested in and things you’ve done recently.
These make for beautiful keepsakes! Don’t want to store a million journals in your attic? Just pick your favorites to save, OR scan the pages to save in computer files for a paper-free version!
6. COOK WITH THEM
This would be one of my favorite ways to spend time with my kids while also teaching them to be creative.
All three of my kids have enjoyed “helping out” in the kitchen, and this couldn’t be a more fun way to incorporate so many teaching moments – measuring, adding and subtracting, finding foods they like, tasting and smelling new things, and learning how to stir and flip things in a pan.
Teaching them to safely use a stove or oven at a young age has been a great experience for me. Of course, they must be taught about the dangers and not using heating appliances without supervision.
You never know, you may wake up to a pot of coffee and breakfast one morning from your seven-year-old! True story 🙂
And we all know what comes with cooking – a mess. Teach them how to clean it up.
I know there are a ton of other things to do with our kids that are simple and cheap, but I hope that these are some things that spark an interest for you and your family to try, if you haven’t already!
Also, please feel free to share and comment below with simple things that you do with your kids and your family!