Most parents have heard it at least a time or two. If you're like me, or my mom, you happily tell your kids that you'll give them something to do if they're bored. Something like scrubbing the toilets or picking up dog poop.
A child with a healthy, active imagination will rarely get bored. And if he does, he'll find a way out of it. We can encourage our kids to learn how to find a way out of boredom by forcing boredom upon them and then sitting back and watching them work their way out of it.
A few years ago our family went to visit some relatives in a small town in the heart of Mexico. By spoiled American standards, there was nothing to do. No video games, no internet, no TV (at least not in English), no friends to call, no mall or playground nearby.
But my kids (ages 6, 10 and 12 at the time) did not get bored.
- They read.
- They explored.
- They searched for lizards and inspected ant hills.
- They bought coloring pages at a local shop and spent time coloring and chatting with each other--all three of them.
- They joined the local kids in games of jump rope and "esconditas" (hide and seek).
- They enthusiastically helped wash laundry the old-fashioned way (by hand) and pick "nopales" (prickly pear cactus).
I could not have been more pleased with how well my kids handled themselves in the face of having nothing to do.
You can do the same for your kids, and you don't even have to leave home to do it. Simply turn off the TV and computer and ban your kids from using any kind of electronic device for a day or two. Then just sit back and see what happens. Depending on their ages, they may need some nudges in the right direction, but you just might be surprised to see what they can do with "nothing."