The possibility that children will get bored at leisure or at school is a source of concern for teachers and parents. The educational staff invests effort in planning and managing the lessons and the academic tasks, and also in managing the break time, so that the children will be busy with fun and interesting activities and will not get bored.
During the school year most parents encounter the experience of boredom when asked “how was the school?” The children say “boring”. On the other hand, during the vacations, the experience of boredom in the parents’ eyes becomes a problem that they see in the routine of the studies to the extent that it is their responsibility to prevent or solve it. In both cases boredom is interpreted as a failure of adults who have not been able to interest the children and engage them in activities that will benefit or benefit them.
So what is there about boredom among the children that worries the adults so much, and what significance is the subject in the eyes of the children themselves? To address this, one must take into account the changes in the interaction between adults and children in recent decades.
Time management of children
School education has been established as a framework of learning for all children in modern countries and is based on a pedagogical approach that views children as naïve and uneducated. The school is designed to provide children with the knowledge and skills that will enable them to conduct themselves as adults in society. From this perspective, adult responsibility and authority towards children was defined as deriving from the knowledge in their possession.
In recent decades, new pedagogic approaches have evolved to manage the interactions between adults and children, which redefine the responsibility of adults for children and the ways in which they are realized. The authoritative approaches that characterized the beginnings of modernity have largely been replaced by approaches based on dialogue and negotiation between adults and children.
At the same time, Western culture has adopted a view that sees the organization of childhood through enriching and enjoyable activities as a pattern that allows good childhood in the present and even improves children’s chances of success in the future. All these contradict the experience of boredom perceived as problematic not only because it has the meanings of wasted time, but also because boredom is perceived as a situation fraught with danger, for fear that bored children will act in a way that will endanger them, others or their environment.
However, the change that has taken place in recent decades in the patterns of dialogue between adults and children does not indicate an increase in the autonomy of children in the management of their affairs. vice versa. Research shows that children’s leisure in Western cultures is shrinking and that they are now more than ever managed by adults. Although this management is conducted through dialogue, it concerns not only the management of time, learning, and activities, but also the management of their future experiences, feelings and memories.
Therefore, an experience of boredom among children presents a challenge to the good intentions of adults. Based on conviction and a promise of pleasure or interest to motivate the children to cooperate with them, the boredom among the children is a failure for them. For children, however, speech about experiences of boredom is often revealed as a resource in the negotiations they conduct with adults in relation to the functioning required of them in everyday life.
Let children look for solutions to boredom
Children speak of an experience of boredom as a means of bargaining in relation to the activities in which they are involved and as a way of discussing their experience during them. By talking about boredom, children are able to express opposition to the reality that adults have designed for them and to bargain for what is expected of them within them. In so doing, they become partners in the discussion of their welfare and to a large extent undermine the structure of authority in which interrelationships existed until recently.
Thus, in the circumstances of childhood organized and managed by adults in an effort to secure for them a protected present and a future of success, an experience of boredom among children is a challenge for adults. But it is a challenge that comes from the effort to manage the children’s being, not only in terms of managing the activities in which they are involved, but also in terms of managing their own inner experience.
In other words, boredom is the dark side of the over-management of childbirth today. Therefore, instead of seeing it as a source of concern, I suggest adopting new thinking about it and seeing it as an opportunity to express creativity and independence among the children.
Therefore, it is worthwhile for parents and educational staff to adopt a less defensive attitude towards boredom and to transfer responsibility for coping with this experience to the children themselves. It is recommended to allow children to seek solutions to boredom and to experiment with their implementation with minimal, if any, intervention by adults.
In addition, it is recommended to say goodbye to the fantasy that childhood experience will only contain positive feelings and enjoyable experiences and see frustrating and challenging experiences for children to enrich their repertoire of skills and abilities