“Mommy, I’m Bored!”
Now that it is mid-summer and the children are not in school, there’s a good chance you’ll have heard the words: “I’m bored!”.
There’s a likelihood that it’ll trigger you in some way and cause an irritation or worse. Perhaps you’ll feel guilty “Oh no, I’m not a good parent –otherwise my child wouldn’t be bored –I haven’t provided enough activities or encouraged sufficient independence for them to find something to do on their own!”
Job #1 then, is to process your own upset over the statement. Remember it’s about
me that I feel upset (Step 2 in the Choose Again Six-Step Process) –not about my child feeling bored. If I sit with that feeling of guilt for a few minutes I’ll remember a time when I felt guilty as a child. Whatever I did that I perceived to be wrong at that time was something I did because of a belief that I was bad and it is time to forgive myself for that belief. I can remind myself that it is not possible to taint my innermost true Self in any way. If I can remind myself to reconnect with that pure part of myself, I will no longer feel upset.
In other words, process your upset with the Choose Again Six-Steps (Diederik Wolsak 2018) to bring yourself back to equanimity. Eventually, that process can be done in the few seconds it takes to recognize that your child’s statement caused a reaction –an upset - in you. Now it is just a neutral fact that your child expressed boredom. Now you can tackle that as a problem to be solved.
So, what did your child actually mean when he/she said he/she was bored?
Here are a few possibilities:
If we comply by helping our children to fill their time with activities that we suggest, we will not be helping them to cope with being alone with their own selves, and their own thoughts. We’ll be helping them to avoid the real issue which is a mistaken belief they hold about needing something external for them to be happy.
So, express confidence in their ability to find something interesting to do or encourage them to delight in not being busy –time for meditation, reading, or just ‘being’. Unstructured playtime is considered to be essential for children (Dr Shimi Kang, Peter Gray). Play is the ‘work’ of children, so beware of filling every waking moment with activity –children need more down time.
If you have a gratitude practice (and if not then think about instituting one), a useful thing you could do is express your own gratitude for the ordinary wonderful things in life, such as a conversation you had with someone that taught you something you didn’t already know, something unusual you saw in the garden, or something you read in a book –a sentence that caused you to see things differently, or some words that just sounded great together. These examples will help to show your children how much richness there is all around us –there is no reason to ever be bored!
Nachman of Bratslav said: “Seek the sacred within the ordinary. Seek the remarkable within the commonplace.” Helping our children to do this by doing this ourselves will go a long way to solving boredom.
I know firsthand the emotional and financial costs of having a troubled teenager and I don’t want that to happen to you. That's why I wrote my book What They Don't Teach in Prenatal Class: The Key to Raising Trouble-Free Kids and Teens (available on Amazon).