My children are on Spring Break. If I'm being completely honest, they're driving me bat-shit crazy...some of the time. Please don't misunderstand. I've loved our "time off" together - not packing lunches, being able to sleep in or even spend the entire day in our jammies. All good things. But every so often, I hear 3 little words and I seriously want to poke my eyes out.
“Mommy, I’m bored”. There are, of course, other options, like: “Mom, I don’t know what to do”, or “Mommy, I have nothing to play with”, but in my house, I most often hear, "Mommy, I'm bored." Seriously!
How hard is it to not scream back because your child is literally sitting amongst new books, 3 recently purchased new toys, actually has a friend over, or just completed an activity and isn’t used to any “down time”?
There are actually two things happening here. First, it is a necessity to teach our children it’s okay to slow down and be still..even, dare I say it, be bored. Second and more importantly, we need to teach our children about impulse control and self-gratification.
These are all very abstract parenting skills to teach but most necessary when we talk about creating a successful and happy adult. Critical thinking, self-esteem and self-confidence do not organically appear in adults. They are interpersonal skills that develop over time, with the guidance of an emotionally-mature adult, likely you, their parent. So, how do we go about doing this? Honestly, I could write a book on this one topic. There is quite literally that much information to be shared. For today’s purpose, however, I'll focus on this: the 15-minute rule.
Next time you hear, "I'm bored", set a timer for 15-minutes and give your child 2-4 activity options that they can engage in, ON THEIR OWN. Let them know that when the timer goes off, you'll check in on them but if they find you before the timer goes off, you'll be starting it over with a new 15-minute solo play period.
What's going to happen, you ask? Most children will be so engaged in their own play when the timer goes off, that they'll continue their independent play, organically teaching them critical thinking, patience, self-control and self-soothing...all necessary skills for building an adult with great self-esteem and interpersonal skills. Mission accomplished. And bonus - you get a little quiet time as well. Well deserved, I think.