Tuesday, April 10, 2012

a recipe for boredom

It's school holidays.  The boys are home, and this morning they are bored.  Or so they keep telling me.  Over and over and over again.

As I contemplate possibly leaving home, I remember something I once read from Charles Eisenstein, author of "Ascent of Humanity".  

Here is how to make a child bored:

  • "First and foremost, keep him indoors so that the infinitude of nature, its endless variation and chaotic messiness is replaced by a finite, orderly, predictable realm." 

  • "Second, through television and video games, habituate him to intense stimuli so that everything else seems boring by comparison." 

  • "Third, eliminate as much as possible any unstructured time with other children, so that he loses his capacity for creative play and needs entertainment instead." 

  • "Fourth, shorten his attention span with fast-paced programming, dumbed-down books, and frequent interruptions of his play." 

  • "Fifth, hover over him whenever possible to stunt his self-trust and make him dependent on outside stimulation." 

  • "Sixth, hurry him from activity to activity to create anxiety about time and eliminate the easy sense of timelessness native to the young." 
And so I stand firm.  I will not cave into demands for computer games or TV.  I will not be their entertainment director (all the time).  I will invite some mates over.  And they will go outside and play.

I know from many school holidays of experience that eventually they become so bored with being bored that they use their creative thinking to come up with alternatives, that can often keep them going all day.

Is "Mum, I'm bored" a familiar refrain in your house?  What do you do?


  1. I loved reading this. I agree with you 100% but as an AuPair I am not in the position to do things this way... My boys are 4 & 6-years old. Both have computers, mini dvd-players and a massive TV in their upstairs living area. It is expected of me to entertain them and hover around them all the time.Great post though!

  2. Great summary! And I completely agree about not being an 'entertainment director'. It always amazes me that parents now see that in their job description.

  3. I LOVE THIS! I just share it on my FB page...


    Thank you!

  4. when they complain about being bored, I offer them chores to do instead....usually they elect to find something fun to play on their own

  5. When my kids, ( 5 and 3 years old) complain about being bored, or want me to direct their play all the time, I offer them household chores to do instead. Sometimes they choose to help me with chores, but usually they come up with sometype of fun play independantly instead!

  6. I like the quotable quote: "eventually they become so bored with being bored that they use their creative thinking to come up with alternatives, that can often keep them going all day"

    When I was a kid I only once used the phrase "I'm bored" and a parent replied that what I really meant was that I had so many things I could do I didn't know which to choose first. My parent was right.

  7. Such an important post. So many good points that I hope parents take to heart.

  8. I LOVE this post. It is an excellent reminder of the type of parent I want to be (and the type I do not want to be). Thank you!

    1. Thanks Natalie - I constantly need reminding too. And sometimes I cave in (typing with Sponge Bob Square Pants song droning in the background)!