If you read my blog I posted last week, Childhood is only 940 Saturdays, this summer I am really working on being more present with my own children. Being more present also includes a more balanced life/work schedule.
Shortly after I put my intention out to the universe (hello laws of attraction) I was introduced to Lynne Watts from a fellow Speech Language Pathologist (retired) turned business branding specialist, Kathy Brunner. What the amazing thing about this connection is not only meeting a fellow SLP but that Lynne writes children’s books. Children’s books that help teach children to become excellent problem solvers. Like attracts like, no doubt about it!
Parents and kids alike love summer. It’s a time of relaxation and freedom. It’s unstructured days and late nights; movies and picnics, wild roller coaster rides at the theme park and lazy days poolside. But eventually something will probably rear it’s ugly head.
It’s the dreaded “B” word.
My kids would usually bring it up after a particularly eventful day spent at an amusement park, where we had been on the go from dawn to dusk. Just as we get home and I collapse on the sofa, they whine pitifully, “I’m bored.”
In our fast paced, always tuned in and turned on world, I believe we’ve created our own monster. Kids nowadays expect nonstop entertainment and often we as parents believe that we are responsible for providing it. We enroll our kids in camps and classes, go on family vacations and visit local attractions. By the end of the summer, we are all exhausted. Instead of being refreshed and renewed, we are tired and frustrated.
What if being ‘bored’ is a good thing?
What if instead of providing constant activities and structured events, we created an oasis of time for creativity and free play? For many kids this would be a novel concept but for those of us in my generation that is what summer was. It was long days of creating forts and riding bikes. We roamed the neighborhood or played in the backyard. We played board games and read books (seriously-books). There was of course no technology to keep us indoors. Saturday morning cartoons and Sunday night Walt Disney were the only times we were glued to the television.
Teaching children to manage their own free time and create their own activities is an important skill. When we don’t learn to do this as children, we grow up to be adults who expect to be entertained as well. Know anyone like that? Here are some great ways to encourage children to develop an independent mindset while taking responsibility for their own time management and entertainment.
Use a schedule
Even young children can understand a printed schedule that identifies such activities as bedtime, TV or video game time and free time. Then define what free time is: a time to use their own imagination to create opportunities for play. Once they understand that this is their special time, most children will look forward to it rather than look to the parent for guidance.
Brainstorm a list of activities
Help your child develop a list or a notebook of activities that they could review to give themselves ideas as to how to fill free time. Make sure there are lots of activities that don’t require someone else, a friend or you to participate. Children need to learn to entertain themselves without always needing someone else to play with. Here are a couple of more resources to get the creative juices flowing:
Watch how this imaginative nine year old filled his summer days at his Dad’s auto parts shop: Caine’s Arcade.
You can read a previous post on fun writing activities your child can do for the summer HERE
Expect some resistance
If you’ve been providing constant activity or resorting to video game babysitters when you are tired of it all, you can expect some whining and resistance to having to develop their own sense of imaginative play. This is a good thing and a sign that you are working in the right direction.
Need some great books to share with your child for summer reading? Check out the Wyatt the Wonder Dog Book Series, children’s books with an empowering message.
Lynne Watts is an author, speaker, coach, mom and retired elementary school counselor in Atlanta, Georgia. She has helped hundreds of children solve problems much like the ones that Wyatt is faced with in the Wyatt the Wonder Dog book series. Through delightful and engaging stories, she hopes to empower many more children to become successful problem solvers. Follow her at http://wyatthewonderdog.com/ or http://lynnewatts.com