A while ago, a dear Twitter friend confided in me with a parenting challenge she had been having. Her 3-year-old son always seemed bored. He was also clingy. When his mom offered an activity, he refused to play for longer than 5 minutes.
Living in a 9-person family, he'd play by himself quite well when everybody was home, but when they were gone for work, boredom took the better of him. My friend (a stay-at-home, working mom) had been feeling tired of not being able to entertain his son and not having much time for herself.
Through our conversation, we realized the problem was less about "boredom" and more about "isolation."
Boredom is not bad at all! This week's article is about boredom and why it's beneficial to all of us, including our kids.
But sometimes, diagnosing our kids with "boredom" is where we're mistaken.
When children feel isolated, they can look withdrawn and depressed.
Or they might look hyperactive instead, unable to pay attention, sit still, or calm down.
Either way, the world is not their oyster, as it is for children who are able to reconnect.
A lonesome child says, “I'm bored.”
A twelve-year-old sobs, “Nobody likes me.”
A parent says, “I don't know what my three-year-old is thinking; she looks so sad sometimes, but won't tell me what's the matter.”
Excerpt from “Playful Parenting” by Lawrence J. Cohen.
My friend's little boy had been feeling "isolated" when the house got empty. He saw "clinginess" as a coping strategy. I sent my friend this simple game to "fill-up" his "attention bucket":
The fill-up game by Dr. Becky Kennedy
"I don't think you’re filled up with Mommy! Mommy is only up to your ankles! Let's fill you up!"
Give your child a long tight squeeze.
"How about now? Whaaaat? Only to your knees? Ok, round 2..."
Squeeze your child again, maybe make a grimace as you act like you're using all your might.
"What? Only to your belly? I thought I got higher! Ok, more Mommy coming, round 3..."
Once your child is filled up, do one more squeeze, saying:
"Ok, well let me give you some extra, just in case. So many changes these days, probably good to have some extra Mommy stored up in there."
Only a few days later, my friend was quite happy with how her son responded to the shift in her perspective. Here's what she said (with her permission):
I was struggling to understand what was happening with my little one.
What mattered the most was understanding that it was “loneliness” and not “boredom”. Until then I was solving the wrong problem!
He loves the activity of filling the attention bucket! I never thought it would work wonders.
Also, I always knew I shouldn’t give him instructions while he’s playing on his own, but I still kept doing! Now I’ve stopped completely. It’s his game, his rules! I’m nobody to tell him how to play "correctly."
🥄 Weekly nurture
This week I wrote about boredom and how it's beneficial to our kids. You will also find a few ideas on how to help your little ones learn to overcome their own boredom. I'm also adding an article about play from a past issue.
How to approach a kid's boredom: It is hard to fight our urge to entertain our kids when we hear the sentence, "Mom/Dad, I'm bored!" But some boredom is great for kids. Here's how to approach it.
3 surprising reasons why our children want to play: Play has an irreplaceable role in children's development. It is an attempt to learn, express, and communicate. In this article, you will find out the 3 reasons why children play.
🦉 Weekly wisdom
"One thing I had learned from watching chimpanzees with their infants is that having a child should be fun."
– Jane Goodall
👁️ Weekly visual
That's it for today! ❤️
Thanks for reading!
Send me your thoughts. I'm on Twitter and love seeing a DM in my inbox. You can also hit reply or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next Saturday!
Love, Basak (founder of Apparent)