Lending an ear and showing a little empathy can go a long way.
- Jens Peter de Pedro, Play Designer, Toca Boca
“Dad, I’m bored.”
I must have heard it 100 times by now. Why do we hear this so often, as parents?
I believe the reason we hear it so often is because boredom is not a concrete problem that always has the same fixed solution. Boredom is the sense of being in a void, in a place where everything that matters has been done or is not worth doing right now. The batteries are empty. Help!
The good news is that when you state to someone that you are bored it implies that you sense there is a way out, but that you just need a little help. There’s hope!
OK, your child just told you she is bored. What to do? If we accept that boredom is a feeling…
The last thing you want to do is judge them for how they feel.
- The next time they feel this way they are not going to tell you about it. Or…
- They might not even admit to themselves they are feeling this way.
Both of those outcomes are terrible in the long run for your mutual relationship and the other person’s development.
When someone tells you how they feel, you want to listen. I’m terrible at it, but I know the theory of how to listen and that has saved me many times. The key to listening is to not try to educate the other person, but to empathize with them. More concretely, try to reflect with your own words what you think they are feeling, to make sure you understood them right.
“It sounds like you feel like you have nothing fun to do?”
That’s probably pretty much all you have to do. Boredom is a fleeting feeling. What’s important is that you just avoided judging your child as lazy or unimaginative, and you just evaded conflict by not making them feel guilty for not helping you with the garden or doing their homework.
Offer to help your kid to come up with something to do. Sometimes we just need a sounding board or a little of that human touch to get out of a small rut.
If you managed to empathize with their feeling they are much more likely to take you up on the request to help you out with what you’re doing, because it will be easier for them to feel empathy with your situation in return.
In short, don’t judge your child for being bored. Show empathy and your home will soon be a more fun and loving place!