There are some word combinations that can strike fear into the heart of a man during his life dependant on who says them….”I love you “ …. “I’m pregnant” …..” I’m leaving you!”… and “ I’m bored”. Natural defence mechanism might make our first response ….it’s not my fault !!
The phrase I’m bored coming from a child can elicit responses like “You can’t be bored” “You have hundreds of toys” or “ Go play with your brother /sister”. This is because what we hear is a child saying “ I don’t know what to do!”
But what else could your child be trying to say?
..I have no-one to play with? Or Dad I want you to play with me or I need some attention/interaction with you but you’re doing something else?
For me as a magician and children’s entertainer I find these situations especially hard, as I think I am supposed to know how to entertain children but my kids are bored!! But this reaction is based on my unrealistic expectations of myself. I think dads often see this as an affront to our ability as Dads – we hear “ I have nothing to do and it’s your fault!!”
So what could we do as parents to help the situation? You should see being bored as a way of getting your child to be creative and think outside the box, and there is research to support this. But at times I like to stop what I am doing and give my kids some Dad inspiration. From playing a game together or just starting them off on an activity, something with an end result, that I can dip in and out of, if I am trying to make lunch or involved in something important when I am interrupted.
Another approach I have used is having a variety of toys boxes with different toys in but the kids only have access to two each so when the ‘bored’ phrase is uttered, all I need to do is change a box with one in the garage or loft.
No one likes seeing a child upset or unhappy, but as a parent I have learnt that sometimes this is part of their development, so “I’m bored!” can be a sign that perhaps they need a bit of stimulation, by perhaps introducing a new game or activity. I often find these are the times I introduce games I played as a child, some, however I do regret at times …the introduction of the card game “Cheat” does come back to haunt me. When a pack of card is out, it is always the only game that they want to play, which being a magician means I cannot always get away with not having a pack of cards!
So here is another idea; write a list of games and activities you want to play with your children, stuff you did as a kid, and next time your child says “I’m bored” and they mean I want attention pull out the list and try something you want to do.
How we react in these situations are the moments I believe that help us define in our children’s eyes the type of father that we are.
But one thing is for sure, that it is never boring being a Dad.