“I’m bored.” These two words can send chills into the bones of any parent, especially foster parents who are often caring for large numbers of kids in their homes! Of course, foster parents are not intended to be entertainers but we need to understand boredom can have both positive and negative results.
For kids who have experienced trauma, boredom can be a trigger for negative behaviors to return: a lack of self-worth, abandonment issues, and even depression. On the flip side, boredom allows a child to foster creativity and develop a sense of identity.
How can foster parents help their kids respond best to being bored? The answer is constructive boredom.
Here are 5 Tips to help you connect with your child while allowing them to grow through their downtime.
EXPLORE THE OUTDOORS
Spending too much time indoors can be the number one cause of boredom. Consider a weekly walk or a picnic where your child is free to roam and explore and then invite them to share what they discovered with you.
CREATE A LIST OF THINGS TO DO
Sit down with your child and help them brainstorm a list of all the things they enjoy doing. These can be basic activities such as playing cards, reading a book, or going for a bicycle ride. They could also be more elaborate ideas such as cooking a fancy dinner, putting on a play, or practicing photography. Adding how long they can do an activity will give them a sense of control over their schedule. When there is unstructured time allow them to choose the activity that fits the time they have available.
FEED THEIR IMAGINATION
Sometimes encouraging creativity by using imagination is the best way to save a child from the depths of boredom. Whether this is in the creation of art, a story, or even something much simpler like a blanket fort. Invite them to explore more about an animal or create something new for a character they like. As they imagine they may also discover hidden talents. No matter how the projects turn out celebrate the effort.
TEACH A NEW SKILL
Learning to cook or bake might not sound like the most thrilling of activities. But, it can be a great way for a child to explore new things, textures, and even smells. Not to mention, being able to cook or bake for themselves is an invaluable life lesson!
CREATE SPECIAL PLACES FOR PLAY
Whether it's a rec room with a closet full of games or a part of the bedroom designated for play have a safe place for them to be creative. Make sure it's stocked with items like markers, paper, building blocks, modeling clay, etc.
If children are playing on their own it's good to check in and show interest in what they are doing. This encourages them and fuels the connection that you really care about them. Play is a key way to build connections with your kiddos!