Summer is a beautiful season. From budding flowers to beach-time merriment, there’s tons for your family to see and explore this season. Unfortunately, our modern world encourages children to spend more time with their electronics and, as a result, children aren’t engaging in as much imaginative play as they once were. Summer is a great time to reboot your kids’ free time and, as a result, enhance their self-confidence and curiosity. Here’s how!
Stop Solving Their Boredom:
It’s okay—and even healthy—for parents to set limits on their children’s screen time each day and encourage them to find their own activities. As parents, we sometimes feel responsibility for our children’s boredom. Cries of I’m Bored! can feel like personal failures—like we’re not doing enough to entertain them or haven’t scheduled enough opportunities to engage their minds. Instead, try looking at your child’s boredom as another learning opportunity. Encourage them to find ways to alleviate their own boredom instead of relying on you to do it for them.
It can take time for your child to develop the skills to self-entertain, and that’s okay. Like all other skills we encourage our children to learn, learning to self-entertain takes time and energy. Keep at it by continually offering moments of boredom throughout the day. Prompt your child to think of this as an issue they can solve by saying, “Boredom’s no fun. What can you do to get rid of your boredom?” Alternatively, if they’re really struggling, you could give some suggestions, such as, “When I’m bored, I like to read books,” or “When I was your age, I liked riding my bike around the neighborhood.” While they may not take you up on your suggestions, it will get their mind working towards seeing boredom as an emotion they have control over.
Offer Imaginative Resources:
Sometimes, kids need a little boost to get their minds going. Try offering a little inspiration each day. Get a medium tote bag just for this purpose, and each morning add a few things into it and take a few things out. Maybe one day they’ll find it filled with paper towel rolls, old sheets, and finger paint. Another day, they might find themselves facing a deck of cards, some markers, and a roll of string.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make this idea work for your family. For the most part, you can use items that you already have lying around the house. As you go about your day, collect things that look like they could be interesting from a child’s eyes. Encourage your child to look into the bag each morning and see if they can come up with anything to do with the objects inside.
Some days, you can put in little “presents,” like a new book or puzzle. Having little presents to look forward to some days can make it even more exciting to check out the bag and can add mystery and magic to it. Meanwhile, offering resources can help your child think about their day’s activities without directly telling them what to do or how to do it.
Make Them Feel Important:
Have a little scientist on your hands? Give them a field notebook to record their observations and questions in throughout the day, and offer to go through it with them at the end of the day. This encourages them to look at the world through a curious lens. It can also help them think about, reflect upon, and share their day with you, a skill many children have a hard time learning.