Tips to manage children and their boredom

Dr. Nishal Pinto, Clinical Psychologist, Columbia Asia Hospital Sarjapur Road

The phrase “I’m bored” can drive parents crazy at home. children are stuck at home due to the outbreak of COVID-19. They need to find ways to engage themselves, do their school work, exercise and entertain themselves. It won’t be surprising that parents will be hearing “I’m bored” a lot more than before. people want to escape the feeling of boredom. But while boredom causes temporary uncomfortable feelings. Boredom is an emotional state, that is temporary. A bored person has unpleasant feelings, lacks interest in completing tasks and has problems paying attention.

Boredom can come from lack of rest and nutrition, lack of mental stimulation or too much repetition. It is the trapped feeling of having to do things that are imposed, inescapable, and void of interest, mattering, or pleasure. A person can get bored if a task isn’t interesting enough, if the work is too hard or too easy and if activities lack meaning and challenge. Lack of control can also contribute to boredom. COVID-19 may throw up all these situations – sleepless nights, not enough innovation and a lack of control.

Boredom is serious because it can be a painful state to endure. It can feel intolerable to lose interest, to feel at a loss of purpose, to lack meaning, to feel undirected and aimless, to feel disconnected and at loose ends, to feel unmotivated, to feel trapped in tedium and monotony, to feel bored stiff, bored to tears, bored out of one’s mind, bored to death.

Children may become bored while engaged in an activity, due to:

  • Loss of interest
  • Confusion
  • Fear of making a mistake
  • Repeating the same activity for too much time

A bored child may want to be engaged when you offer something fun for them to do, whereas a depressed child may avoid it. Some children who are bored cannot adequately describe their feelings hence can figure out the interesting activities that help in dealing with boredom. So, when they come complaining to you about feeling bored, cheer up them, engage them into some kind of conversation.
You can help your child cope up with boredom feelings by engaging in various activities.

  • Never question your bored child
  • Avoid responding to your child’s complaints of boredom by getting angry, impatient or rudely.
  • Choose to ask open-ended questions to stimulate their creativity in finding interesting solutions to overcome their boredom.
  • Recognize that your child’s complaint of boredom could be temporary. It may be their way of trying to seek your attention or asking to participate with them to play.
  • Help your child recognize other kinds of emotional issues or feelings which he might have mistaken as boredom.
  • Help your child find an engaging activity or one you can participate in together.

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Solutions to boredom

If you find your child is getting bored, you don’t need to feel guilty, instead think about the following:

  • These are unusual times where things feel out of control so see how you can engage your child with different activities.
  • Teach your child not to be afraid of the feelings that come with boredom, but excited. Boredom is a signal that indicates change is needed. Help them generate ideas and then pick one to engage in.
  • Getting over the boredom could be hard part. Your child may not be bored, just not knowing where to start. Help them in getting started
  • Our attention is easily stolen by our mobile devices as they provide an easy distraction. Try setting a timer with your family, turn off your devices, and all engage in something meaningful for 20 minutes. Creativity emerges in space. You’ll never know what you could achieve if you keep distracting them.

Boredom at this age can be painful, it is natural that children would become restless and irritable. By understanding why kids have a hard time tolerating being bored and by following the tips outlined above, you can help your child navigate the stagnations of boredom, by bringing out the creativity in the child. If still your unable to solve this consult a psychologist and take advice.

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