Often parents these days think the only way to beat boredom is to surround your children with as many gadgets and games as you can. Surely, when they have a bunch of stuff to play with and do they won’t be bored, right?
Kids don’t say they are bored because they “have nothing to do.” On the contrary, it’s because they “don’t know how to do anything.” Please. Let me raid any child’s room on a given day and I will find enough stuff to occupy my entire lifetime. Unfortunately some of us have fallen in the trap of not teaching our children how to deal with life and to take care of things around them on their own. We just provide them with “things” but the novelty of that new thing will always wear off. Just like if we don’t teach our young adults to value their spouse and their marriage and learn to compromise and deal with this new relationship, the novelty of their wedding day/fairytale romance will wear off, they will eventually get “bored” and leave their mate for the next new thing.
With a calm voice and pleasant demeanor we must allow our children to learn that life is not about constantly satisfying their needs. It is also about fulfilling the needs of others. Through these lessons we can teach them that if they feel “bored” they can see if someone might need some help around the house. Did they see if their siblings need anything? Does Mom or Dad need any help? How about checking on their grandparents? A neighbor? Or relative?
Once kids learn that their lives aren’t centered around their needs always being fulfilled at the drop of a hat, they will understand patience, kindness and generosity. And at the end of it all, there is always something to be done.
Tips for dealing with summertime boredom
- “I’m bored!” – When a child says “I’m bored” or “there’s nothing to do,” the point is not to give in. Tell them there is plenty to do and have a list of manageable tasks ready. Otherwise, they might call your bluff.
- Encourage creativity – Sometimes leaving your child with an incomplete task can force them to think outside the box. Let’s say you are trying to organize the kids’ closet or playroom. Start by dividing toys up, and then let your children finish up. They have seen you start and they know the end goal. Give them some space and you might be surprised with what they come up with.
- Sibling time – With kids in school all day long, sometimes they hardly spend time with their siblings. Summer is a great time to help them bond with their brothers and sisters. Encourage them to play together and take on tasks together as well. It will teach them cooperation and teamwork. (An added benefit: Once they see how enjoyable each other’s company is, they might spend the whole day playing together and that will kill the boredom for at least one day.)
- Plan simple activities with flexibility – Kids, especially younger ones, thrive on freedom and flexibility. Children aren’t meant to be robots, punching in and out. Unfortunately we have turned them into that to force them into a lifestyle we can manage. Especially during the summer, plan your days and activities with lots of wiggle room. And keep it simple! Some ideas are to take a walk outside to discover new insects, read some books or finger paint a favorite scene, bake cupcakes in the kitchen or talk about different foods and flavors.
Editor’s note: Islamic Insights is honored to host the “Raising Faith” column by esteemed guest contributor and student from Qum, Sister Samira Rizvi. Besides being a former newspaper copy editor, Rizvi is a mother of three, an author who writes for Little Muslim Books, and maintains a personal blog. Her column will focus on her experiences in tarbiyat—the upbringing of children based on Islamic values. For past articles in the column see here.