I believe that children need to be allowed to get bored. This helps them learn how to play independently. By finding things to do on their own, they are learning how to use their imagination and become more resourceful.
For this reason, I believe that television should generally not be allowed. It is the easy option to stick your child in front of the television for peace and quiet and when you want to get on with chores. But television is addictive, and as such is not good for your child, as they will want to watch it all the time. Children will demand it and cry and scream until you give in and turn it on. It will help if you follow a routine then, plan your days and week so you can fit in weekly and daily chores when baby/child is sleeping.
We should not respond to boredom with any sort of technological entertainment. Studies tell us children who don’t watch television everyday grow up to be happier, healthier and have better self-esteem. A British scientist,Baroness Greenfielddid some really interesting research, with scary results showing too much screen time “can cause physical changes in the brain that lead to attention and behaviour problems”.
Everything in moderation, I say the odd occasion that I do put the television on, my children know that it is a treat, although I do always try to put something educational on. DVDs are better than standard television. We don’t see the same advertising on DVD’s andas they watch the DVD over and over,it becomes less appealing. Thus, I sometimes find them leaving the television and going to play instead.Too much television can take away from other important activities, such as reading or creative play. I firmly believe that children who don’t watch television for hours every day are more resourceful. Pauric can keep himself busy for over an hour reading and re-reading books that I have given to him. Since he’s only three, he reads from memory and from the pictures, not the words.
Play needs to be structured, so that they can find fun things to do with the free play. By structured, I mean that you give them a selection of toys to play with, or creative work to do. For example, you could get out some toys and play with your child for a few minutes, showing them how to play with the toy. Once they are playing with the toy independently, you can just leave them to it. You then tell your child you are just popping away, say something like, ‘I’m just going to make the dinner and I’ll be back in a bit’. The child will play for maybe 5-10 minutes, before asking for you again. You can then go back to help, or show them again for a further minute or two.
With a bit of practice, the time spent playing on their own will build up. Of course, this also depends on your child’s age. If your child is in another room, they will call for you more often. This is completely normal, as they just want to re-connect with you, they are just checking in. However, if you are in the same room as them, then they will play independently for much longer, without needing to check in on you.
Limiting the toys, and giving children different toys each day, will give each toy a certain novelty. Don’t just leave all the toys out, as this will cause chaos and mess. Your child will jump from toy to toy and not know what to play with.
I believe that if you constantly feed children information and entertainment, they will come to expect this and won’t be able to think for themselves. So, let them get bored and learn how to occupy themselves. This means that you are set up for the future, not having to entertain them every waking minute. It is a little hard work to start with, but you must pass the pain barrier then it will really benefit both you and your child.
I can get on with work or house chores, while Emilia will keep herself occupied for about 15-20 minutes before she’s looking for me. With Alessia, this lasts for maybe 45 minutes to an hour and Pauric can keep himself busy for a couple of hours if I need him to. By starting early, you build the minutes up over time. I always get the kids to tidy up after themselves too, teaching responsibility. Even if it would be quicker to do it myself, I have learned that I must hold back and even re-tidy after, if necessary.
In my house at bedtime, I would get the kids ready and give them each a book to read for 10-15 minutes, before I read it to them myself. I’m teaching them patience here too. Pauric’s pre-school teacher commented on how well Pauric sat at the table, listened and participated in activities when he first started (aged two), saying that he had a great attention span for his age. I felt very proud