Life is fast these days. The hectic pace can be stressful, and sometimes parents and children alike can get impatient and maybe even snippy. This sure was true for us.
As parents of young kids, we often felt burdened by the logistics of making life work and solving all the problems that arose. We struggled to notice what went well, or connect joyfully with our kids. We were often discouraged, in spite of our good intentions to bring encouragement and joy into our home. We wish we’d have seen back then this delightful 1 minute video of a young boy learning how to ride a bike:
Research has shown that being bored is not such a bad thing for kids. Boredom can foster creativity and patience. Yet, when a parent hears that tired phrase, “I’m bored!” again and again, we may feel the need to fix the boredom problem, and keep our kids happy and busy. Does this work? Possibly. But, only if you are trying to fix the problem in the short term. Once the activity or event is over, the familiar whine resurfaces. How do we beat boredom once and for all with kids, while at the same time teach them some important life skills? Read the story below about my interaction with a seven-year-old family friend, and consider these four tips to beat boredom in your own family.
Josie looked at me (the “fun guy” at the table) as she announced with conviction, “I’m bored!”
We were at an outdoor restaurant, and she had finished eating before the rest of us.
jarenwicklund | iStockphoto.com
Last Christmas I pulled out God’s Word to read the familiar passages of Luke 2:4-20 to my niece and nephews and extended family.
The version I read from was the Hawai’i Pidgin Bible (“Da Jesus Book”), a Wycliffe translation of the New Testament into the language of Native Hawaiians. The Hawai’i Pidgin language is a mix of common English and Polynesians roots. It’s a fascinating translation that can seem rather silly at first glance, but can also surprise you with its simple depth. Read this section a couple times for yourself and you’ll see what I mean:
Words matter! What we say and how we say things to our kids matters immensely. With so much potential influence to what we say, it’s important to make sure that we communicate messages of unconditional love and acceptance, during the good days and the rough ones too.
One fun way to plant seeds of unconditional love in our kids is having repeatable phrases, encouraging nicknames, and fun family code words to remind our kids that they are loved no matter what.
Research has shown that being bored is not such a bad thing for kids. Boredom can foster creativity and patience. Yet, when a parent hears that tired phrase again and again, we may feel the need to “fix” the boredom problem and keep our kids happy and busy. Does this work? Possibly. But, only if you are trying to fix the problem in the short term. Once the activity or event is over, the familiar whine resurfaces. How do we beat boredom once and for all with kids while at the same time teach them some important life skills? Read the case study below and consider these four tips to beat boredom in your own family.
“I’m bored!” young Josie announced with conviction.
We were at an outdoor restaurant and she had finished eating before me.
My “keep people happy” value kicked in, and right away I felt an urgency to “fix” her boredom. I immediately started looking for something she could do. There were no crayons at the table, no booklets to page through and no playground near, and there was no way I was going to let her play with my phone. Josie sat impatiently, waiting for me to somehow magically solve her problem. And then it dawned on me.
This was Josie’s problem, not mine.
But I was doing all the brain work to solve it. Realizing that simple fact helped me choose a different course.
Playing games with our kids can be a fun way to connect. But what happens when one or more of the children struggles with losing gracefully?
Enjoyable playtime can quickly morph into a frustrating outburst.
Kids are upset, other players are uncomfortable, and everyone may begin to tiptoe around the “sore loser” — or even be tempted to let them win all the time to avoid a meltdown! Parents may even begin to worry about their child’s future life as a “sore loser”. If he can’t lose a simple game of checkers, what will happen when he doesn’t make the basketball team? Or when he doesn’t get the promotion he wants?
It can be scary to watch your child spiral out of control — but there’s a better way, a way that can help you reclaim the fun of family game time while also helping your child learn to lose gracefully.
Family Meetings: just the words send some parents into a state of anxiety while kids yawn and get immediately distracted. But with a few simple guidelines family meetings can be fun, build cooperation, unity, and even leadership skills!
Sometimes it takes a living, breathing experience to influence how we think about interactions with our children. The Connected Families model of stop and breathe helped me to understand that, as a father, if I desire obedience from my child, I should resist the urge to control their behavior and instead look for connection with my child’s heart. Read my story below for insight about how to apply this principle and see how mindful parenting (after I learned the hard way) really works.
It was the first warm day of spring in Minnesota, which usually means MUD.
The ground was still soggy from the snow melt, but the air was clean and fresh and the flowers were just beginning to peek through the soil. I was outside with two of our three kids and they were enjoying one of the great experiences of childhood: puddle jumping.
Enter our oldest child onto the scene. Shelbi had a number of qualities attributed to many oldest children: leadership, organization, rule-follower and in Shelbi’s case, generally cooperative — which is what made it all the more surprising when she came outside wearing her nice new pants and shirt.
Your kids are watching you. Constantly. All the subtle messages from the way you live life are being absorbed by their active little minds, even if neither you nor your child are aware of it. During the summer months, there are more chances for together time as well as opportunities for you to show your kids the kinds of ideals you want them to embrace. How you do vacations is no exception. Family vacations can be memorable and deepen relationships with one another. But, going on a trip somewhere together can also be a wonderful opportunity to teach about the principles that will help your child grow in wisdom. So it’s a good idea before you plan your summer trip to be “biblically thoughtful” about the messages you are sending your child regarding how you vacation.
To Serve or Be Served?
In our hectic society, it’s often easier to skip a vacation because we can’t carve out the time, or collapse in an over-priced luxurious spot just to have rest and ready made entertainment. But…
1994 – Our first mini “mountain” climb. Trip motto: “I laugh in the face of danger!”
If you lounge on the beach under palm tree while your lemonade is kept topped off, might your child get a message that we are here to be served? If you flit from one expensive, engaging activity to another, might your child conclude that we are here to be entertained, at any cost?
Years ago a co-worker of Lynne’s shared that his kids were bored and irritable after visiting a series of elaborate amusement parks for their vacation. That comment strengthened our resolve to avoid extravagant vacations.
So if you’re planning some fun time away this summer, it’s helpful to consider carefully, as a family, what is the purpose of your vacation? Can it be more than just a memorable time together? Can it be more meaningful? And how might you work together toward those goals, instead of coming back having spent a lot of money and accumulated a backlog of emails to deal with, but not sure what you accomplished.
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In a family, we all need each other. We are a team, and we share in the responsibility of the household. “God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be” (1 Cor. 12:18). Each child has a special contribution to make to the body of Christ, and to whatever group she is in, including her family.
When everyone contributes, everyone benefits. One child’s service to the family blesses other family members.
In addition, children need to serve in order to grow into healthy, contributing adults. When parents do everything for their children, they can create a sense of entitlement that leaves kids unprepared to care for themselves and others. However, when kids use their talents in ways that bless others, they begin to find their way into the purposes for which God created them.
So what can I do to help my family learn to serve together?