Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thinking about Boredom

"Mommy, I'm booooored" is a fairly common refrain around here.  I used to celebrate it as a sign that my kids were about to pass through a zone of discomfort and come out on the other side with some new fantastic project.  Which happened sometimes, but not always.  Maybe not even often.

Eventually, I figured out that "bored" usually stands for an unmet need, and I refined it to tired, hungry or lonely.  My new definition works better for both kids, they can usually identify one of the 3 issues, but it still doesn't always get us to resolution.

From Gordon Neufeld's blog aka "editorial page" one of his faculty, Jonas, writes a lovely perspective on seeing and handling a child's complaint of boredom.  I'm going to try out his tactic of collecting and connecting.  I'll bet it is the best "solution" yet.

Being Bored (read the full text here)

“Daddy, I am bored,” my six year-old son comes into my home office complaining. I have a feeling of déjà vu. I have heard this before. In fact all my children around this age have shown up with the very same expression: “Daddy, I am bored”. I used to think that they lacked for ideas of what to do. And so, I used to come up with at least a dozen suggestions. It never seemed to work though. My children left seemingly unsatisfied with my suggestions. I used to brush off my discomfort by remembering what I had read in popular psychology columns, that it was a good thing to be bored. As the years passed my two older home-schooled children are no longer in this stage. I never hear them complain about being bored. They seem to have found that never ceasing inner-well of creativity, filling them with endless curiosity. Yes, they show up at my home office, but more likely with precise questions like, ”What is a black hole?” or ”What is the difference between government and parliament?” or ”Why does a car have a gearbox?”
After studying the Neufeld paradigm I obtained words to many things I knew intuitively, and I also received confirmation of others things of which I was not fully certain. But I never understood the meaning of “Daddy, I am bored” until taking one of the Neufeld Distance Education courses.

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