This is a topic that we all need to ponder upon. In this hyper-connected world where youngsters are spending a lot of time on social media and the Internet, it is very difficult to get bored. In fact there are so many things happening around us that it is very hard to catch up . I am a working mum and beyond work, there are so many other things that I need to keep a watch on – house and kids related stuff. Other than mummy’s stuff, keeping a track of my own interests and activities. It’s a lot. The mind is on a constant hunt for next activity. And this is a state of mind of an adult. One can’t imagine what toddlers are going through these days. With so many characters on TV, consumerisms around those characters and events and activities organised to entertain them. The most prevalent example is Frozen. I hate the character as much as my daughter loves it. And I haven’t found a kid yet in the locality that doesn’t know about frozen.
My 4-year-old always complains about getting bored. She doesn’t know what she should be doing next when she is done with watching TV, playing with toys, eating food etc. And that surprises me. As a child, I don’t remember if we ever complained to our parents that we are getting bored and need some entertainment. Our childhood was filled with outdoor games/activities. It was more of self-learning and absorbing. Many times, elders never used to be around us. Today I have two helpers to take care of my kids. I do understand that my kids get hyper attention and this is an abruption in their natural process of growth. But we are working parents. The guilt of not being able to spend enough time, make us believe that they need more attention. The kids should be busy enough and not look for parents. We sometimes forget that no matter how many people are around them, they would still yearn for parents’ attention.
Recently I read an article – Let Your Kids Get Bored! And that article gave a new perspective. It’s alright to let your kids get bored. Because if there is excitement all the time, there are chances that kids will find it hard to focus on one activity. Moreover, they will never be interested in mundane activities like reading, writing, colouring, eating food etc. These activities would not be exciting enough for them. For my first child, I switched onTV while feeding her. While TV was on, it took us 15 mins to feed her. It was quick and convenient for us. The baby’s tummy is full and the mother is satisfied. Even after eating the food, she will continue to watch TV for another 15mins. Though it was easy initially, the problem is that she turned 4, and still expects that TV should be on while she is eating. Moreover, someone should feed her because she is busy watching TV. She doesn’t enjoy the process of enjoying the food while eating. We killed that experience for her.
When the screen is introduced to babies, the moving colourful pictures is fascinating to them. The touch screen is exciting because, with her touch, something changes on the screen and video changes. Nothing can be more exciting than a touch screen. But this messes up with their emotional and mental growth. There is a symptom that I notice in my 18-month-old baby when Ipad/Phone is denied. She is extremely fussy and makes a lot of noise. She throws her hands and feet in the air. The doctors are calling similar behaviour as Ipad mania/Tablet mania. This is a new behaviour that has been noticed in babies and there is no cure for that. Just avoid giving them tablets/phones.
More than kids, it’s parents’ who are getting bored. They find excuses to go out and engage kids in some activity. But trust me, kids don’t get bored. They will always find something to keep themselves engaged. You don’t have to worry about their free time. They should be engaged once a while in extra classes like learning a new sports, a new language or any skill like singing or dancing.
The only message that I am trying to convey through this article is that don’t worry about your kids being bored. Don’t plan activities all the time, don’t plan expensive holidays at an early stage, don’t buy toys on every visit to a mall/shopping centre etc.. You may end up creating an unwanted need for the child by pampering with things they may not necessarily need.