Let your kids get bored

Tak­ing a break from over-sched­uled ac­tiv­i­ties is good for ev­ery­one

Richmond Hill Post - - Kids - KATHY BUCKWORTH Kathy Buckworth is the author of I Am So the Boss of You: An 8-Step Guide to Giv­ing Your Fam­ily the ‘Busi­ness.’

“Bring back the ‘70s sum­mer!”

If I had a Slurpee for ev­ery time I’ve seen blogs and so­cial me­dia posts scream­ing this sub­ject line, my tongue would stay blue for­ever.

In­deed, rid­ing my bike to the 7Eleven to get blue Slurpees on a hot day in the 1970s was a big part of my sum­mer. Did my mom know where I was? Only if I asked for the money first.

The ‘70s sum­mer move­ment is a re­flec­tion of the fact that we, as par­ents, have be­come too or­ga­nized, too com­pli­cated and too he­li­coptery ver­sus the seem­ingly lack­adaisi­cal par­ent­ing days that our par­ents (or for many mil­len­nial par­ents, their grand­par­ents) ap­par­ently en­joyed.

So how can you en­joy un­struc­tured sum­mer days with your child in a world where struc­ture, plan­ning, or­ga­ni­za­tion and con­stant mon­i­tor­ing are the norm? And is there any ben­e­fit to do­ing this?

Alyson Schaefer, author and par­ent­ing ex­pert, cer­tainly thinks so.

“There are nu­mer­ous ben­e­fits to un­struc­tured play that par­ents may not be aware of,” she ex­plains. “Struc­tured play is about learn­ing the rules of an ex­ist­ing game and then de­vel­op­ing mas­tery.” In con­trast, she says, “com­pare that to the ex­pe­ri­ence of leav­ing chil­dren to play on their own in the back­yard.” New games and ideas de­velop when you leave the kids alone.

“[They are] in­ca­pable of do­ing noth­ing and hard-wired for learn­ing through play,” Schaefer ex­plains. “The sit­u­a­tion will de­mand them to get their creative juices flow­ing.” As a par­ent it can be hard to hear

the words “I’m bored!” over and over again, but, as the say­ing goes, cre­ativ­ity of­ten fol­lows a sig­nif­i­cant amount of bore­dom.

Re­mem­ber that un­struc­tured play doesn’t have to mean hav­ing no agenda for the day. If sched­ul­ing is more your thing, you can put some “free time” and “back­yard games” on your itin­er­ary to keep you from get­ting too spe­cific but still al­low you to di­rect gen­eral ac­tiv­i­ties.

“They will in­vent games and rules from noth­ing but acorns, sticks and bot­tle caps,” says Schaefer. “They must ver­bal­ize the rules, get buy in or get crit­i­cism from fel­low play­ers.”

Fur­ther­more, so­cial skills are de­vel­oped dur­ing un­struc­tured play.

“Once in play, chil­dren must de­cide what is al­low­able and when some­one is break­ing a rule of play and what to do about it,” she says.

But should Mom and Dad in­ter­vene when the rules go off the rails? Not nec­es­sar­ily.

Schaefer points out un­struc­tured play “com­bines cre­ativ­ity with so­cial laws and co-op­er­a­tion that doesn’t take place in struc­tured play that is su­per­vised by a coach or adult.”

So maybe for a day or two this sum­mer, shut down the screens, put away the play date spread­sheet, and just see what hap­pens, even if it’s just a Slurpee run.

A new bi­cy­cle and the open side­walk, the stuff of sum­mer ad­ven­tures

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.