Have you ever wondered why you are assailed with “There’s nothing to do” wails, and if it will ever end? It will… with a few changes.

If you are familiar with the terminology “Instant gratification” you will begin to form a picture on how it might be linked to boredom. That is not to say all boredom is generated through the indulgence of instant gratification, but in this day and age it is a major contributor.

So how does it all begin?

All human beings have a desire to gratify needs, wants and urges. They can be simple as the need to breathe, eat or drink, or more complex. But when we don’t get fulfilment, we respond with anxiety or tension. In the case of children, it is usually as whining or whinging, whichever way works.

Why do parents feel the need to assuage these behaviours?

From the moment our children are born we become instant gratifiers to their needs, and as they grow older, sometimes we just forget to turn on the delayed gratification switch. Kids are very canny at getting what they want and know what buttons to push to get it. If a parent falls into the trap of being an instant gratifier then more likely than not it will be a habit continued.

So how does this link to boredom

One of the ramifications that arises through instant gratification is the loss of interest in your passions, or in the case of children, seeking their interests and passions. Choosing the path of least resistance is hard-wired into our brains, and by the same token seeking interests is too hard to pursue if instant gratification is on hand. In the long term the indulgence of instant gratification leads to dissatisfaction, unhappiness and feelings of being unfulfilled, ergo boredom.

What problems are caused

One of the main problems with instant gratification is that kids fail to learn to be independent or lack the ability to organise activities to entertain themselves. Their executive functioning is diminished. Executive functioning involves such things as paying attention, organising and planning, starting tasks and staying focused on them, managing emotions and also keeping track of what you’re doing.

What other things cause boredom

Your child can be bored for a number of other reasons. They might just want some attention from you, to spend more time with you. If this is the case involve her in what you are doing, chopping up carrots, bringing in the wood, folding laundry. If that doesn’t interest them don’t fret boredom is their problem not yours. Out of boredom arises imagination.

Constant boredom can be a sign they need more challenges. Ensure they are getting more exercise or sign them up for an activity.

Where boredom is stemming from demotivated children focus on how he might do things differently, with the suggestions coming from him. If it has originated from feeling they have failed at something, let them know failure is part of a life and that failure and success are two sides of the same coin with failure generally being the prominent flip. Let them know failures don’t define the person they make them stronger.

How to turn the tide

Although parents try to come up with every solution under the sun to help children overcome their boredom all that tends to do is make parents frustrated from the repeated rejection of their suggestions.

One of the most powerful solutions is to plop down beside your child and listen, listen to their wails of despair, for at least 10-15 minutes, without trying to solve their problems. Throw a few silly suggestions out into the stratosphere to see if you can raise a laugh. Laughter is another great weapon which will draw children out of their self-absorption.

Choose a time when they aren’t being “bored” and get them to write out on strips of papers things they like to do, the little things as well as the big things. Then put it all in a jar for future reference. Or sit down once a week and have a round table with cup of milo and bikkies and see if they can come up with ideas of what they might want to do for the coming week so as they don’t have to spend all week mindlessly watching t.v. or playing xbox. It doesn’t have to be set in stone but a failure to plan is a plan to fail.

Just remember they are not going to spontaneously combust by being bored. Eventually they will become bored enough to activate themselves.

Notice I havn’t suggested parents make the suggestions that is because the only person that can motivate a child is the child themselves.

If you have found this helpful, please share with a friend and see what other useful tips and strategies I have. For further tips about motivating your child read my blog on “Can’t Motivate your child off the couch? – Here’s why”, on my blogs page


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