Summer Boredom...Plan For It!

By Alisha Bennett, LMSW

We often hear our children tell us they’re bored. Along with the many other emotions our children experience, we, as caregivers, often want to make their “negative feelings” go away for them. To do this, maybe we give them a phone or ipad, turn on the television, or come up with an activity or task to fill their time to avoid feeling bored. As caregivers, parents, and teachers do we need to do this or rather, can we be teaching our children it is okay to be bored?

In 1993, psychoanalyst Adam Phillips wrote that, “Boredom is actually a precarious process in which the child is, as it were, both waiting for something and looking for something, in which hope is being secretly negotiated,” and that, “the capacity to be bored can be a developmental achievement for the child.”

Summer break is quickly approaching and parents are starting to plan for what they will have their children do to fill the days of not being in school. There are benefits to not filling up a child’s day with activity after activity. In an interview in 2013, Dr. Theresa Belton states, "children need to have stand-and-stare time, time imagining and pursuing their own thinking processes or assimilating their experiences through play or just observing the world around them." It is this sort of thing that stimulates the imagination, while the screen "tends to short circuit that process and the development of creative capacity.”

We help kids when they are sad, mad, and frustrated. We give them strategies and teach them how to “calm down.” We teach our children coping skills for these stronger emotions, but what about when they feel bored? Research shows that feeling bored isn’t so bad and that it can actually help our children figure out what they are interested in and truly like. It can also help bring out their own individual creativity. So, this summer, don’t put so much pressure on yourself to plan your child’s day from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed. Instead, give kids downtime to let their minds wander, daydream, and to use their imagination. Let them figure out what they like to do when they are bored and reinforce this creativity with them.

References:

On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored: Psychoanalytic Essays on the Unexamined Life by Adam Philips

Alisha Bennett is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you are looking for support in finding solutions to enhance your overall wellness, contact Cobb Psychotherapy by calling 718-260-6042 or emailing reception@cobbpsychotherapy.com, and see how therapy can help.

Elizabeth Cobb