Boredom is Good for Kids

A dear colleague of mine attended a parenting workshop the other day and our afternoon conversation steered around the topic , Boredom is good for kids

While I totally agree with the statement, it set me wondering on a zillion aspects.

Do the young parents of today , even allow boredom to set in the routine of their young children? Before the kids can say Jack Robinson , he or she is presented with a hundred options to kill the boredom.

Boredom is considered good since it allows the child to invent and reinvent the self. But I often see it leading to the parent invent and reinvent the self , not the child !

The word boredom did not exist in my lexicon when I was a kid. I always had so much stuff to do . My time after school was largely my affair. I was the group admin for my time , to a large extent. The parent came into picture only when some new waters had to be tested and permission sought. Such as buying a new book or a box of fancy paints that had just come in the stationary store. Each new engagement commodity had to be earned . It would take days of cajoling , begging , promising and a few moist looks that would finally clinch the deal. What followed was hours and days of exploration and discovery. This was followed by a round of good hearted barter system , where new books and toys were traded between friends. And the whole trading affair was managed solely by the kids. The parent was never in picture. With so much to engage in , the word boredom was never conceived. Also , every adult today who grew up in the seventies and eighties knew that if you walked up to a parent with a mundane question —I am bored , what should I do ? -that was like inviting trouble. It would lead to a CBI or FBI type of investigation into your routine , your homework , your studies, your friends …et all. Who wanted that ? Not me ! So we safely stayed away from popping up such questions.

While that was true in the years gone by , it is equally true that change is the only constant in life. And having studied early childhood development in detail , I have every reason to trust this change as it is validated by diligent research and science .

So when discussing this powerful thought , Boredom is good for kids , I decided to get into the shoes of a responsible adult and check it out further.

What do scientists and researchers do when they come out with new findings and theories ??

Ah yes ! they test it out on animals. I have read about Freud’ s experiments with mice to validate the Trial and Error theory.

The Freudian me started to think — no mice , no guinea pigs around me. Whom do I test it out then ?

The answer came in the form of a warm muzzle on my hand from the 5 month old Labrador pup at home. Newton’s apple fell in place ! The puppy is super energetic , hyper , frisky like a child and if looks could speak…..woof woof I am bored….is what he would say to me at least 10 times in a day. A perfect case study .

So the trial began on a relaxed Sunday morning. The puppy toys were spread strategically around the house. The bones were spread as if a treasure hunt was about to begin. And a resolution was made.

While having the morning cuppa , I gave a royal ignore to a wet nose nudging my arm and concentrated hard on the Sunday times. Five or six nudges later , I observed the adorable black fur slowly trudge towards his stuffed teddy and toss it like the whales do at the Sea World in Disneyland. Its working, it’s working…

Half an hour later , as I shove the dirty laundry into the washing machine , a pair of soulful eyes peep at me from behind the laundry basket as if saying , “Now what should I do ? “. The Freud in me said don’t give in. The mother in me said , “Have a heart “. Sigmund Freud won. The puppy was egged to find his own calling. Suddenly a few socks were snatched from my hands and the ripping process started right in front of my eyes. A gentle ‘No’ and a few dirty looks were shared. After all , disciplining and boredom are two different things , right ?

And then began the relay — Mary had a little lamb…..the black lamb with fur followed me throughout the day. And everywhere that Mary went , the puppy was sure to go ! It was as if he had sensed that I was on a mission. Demanding scratches on the washroom were also ignored. And when I came out , the door jam had been chewed to death. While cooking the habitual Sunday lunch of meat and rice , a stoic ignore lead to the rocking chairs fourth leg ( the only one that was untouched so far ) being mauled to shrivels. The newspaper disapeared from the table and reappeared as if straight from the shredding machine. The master of the house can now be heard thundering. He is simmering like the meat masala on the stove. The prodigal pup has chewed up the wires of his favourite Bose speakers in the den. The whole household is in a flurry now and the master booms ,” For God’s sake , give him something to do !”

That’s it. Trial is over. The puppy is sitting sorrounded by his favourite toys . A fresh bone added to his booty. The dog walker is summoned to take him for an extra run to channelise his energy. Run him so much , that he comes and flops to bed !

The jury’s verdict is out.

Boredom is good for kids but not for the canine species. No way !