Why children need to be bored

Children need to be bored

“Mom: I cannot stop the thoughts that come into my head.” A friend told me recently that her daughter, barely five years old, had surprised her with this comment as she carried her to a birthday. Sitting in her car seat in the rear seat of the car, she showed little overwhelmed and bewildered. It is not the first mother tells me something, but in this case it is particularly significant that the girl considered thoughts came to her from outside.

This is not the plot of a fiction film, in the style of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, nor is it a consequence in this case of mental illness, or a point and temporary situation. After discarding all disposable with the psychologist, the conclusion was swift: it is certainly another girl more struck by what we call over stimulation.

Children need to be bored
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More overstimulated generation

In 1997, eighteen years ago, I published a book on the consumption of synthetic drugs among adolescents, which referred exactly to this situation. No doubt we are facing the most overstimulated generation in the entire history of humanity. As recently as 50 years ago we were receiving stimuli from abroad were very limited and moderate in relation to which we received today.

It was mainly from stimuli from our immediate environment, family, friends, and the few hours a week we could spend watching a TV channel in black and white, or listening to a radio program.

Today, any child of ten of our environment has received much more information than any other homo sapiens of those who have been here over the past 40,000 years. He has seen pictures of tyrannosaurs running around a forest, when even a century ago or even knew of its existence. Images of deep-sea fish, animals and insects of any point on earth, recorded on the surface of Mars by a robot, real sequences on the heart pumping blood or cells doing their job in our immune system VCR.

Things that no ancient sage dared to dream, and volume of information very difficult to handle. Incentives to all your senses: synthesizers, sounds and previously unheard rhythms, food from five continents, chewing gums the first few minutes they know passion fruit and then wild fruits of the Australian forest … They’ve stopped counting the types of cereals there on the shelves of supermarkets? And yogurt?

But these children are not only stimuli from their usual environment, but we insist on “enriching” and fill absolutely all their time with more activities on many occasions. An absolutely cornered free time, combined with theatrical cartoon series, raucous games 3D games and all kinds of applications to fill their phones, tablets and heads.

Some years ago that different experts, such as the research group Neuroplasticity and Learning at the University of Granada (UGR), warned of how early stimulation could influence the learning process. The psicobilogy Milagros Gallo noted that:”The training too complex tasks before the system is ready to carry them out, can produce permanent deficits in learning ability throughout life.”

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The problem of over stimulation is that, as do synthetic drugs, it causes what we call “tolerance”. That is, the body gets used to regularly receive their dose of stimuli, until there comes a time when such a dose is not satisfied. What do you do? Very simple: find a higher dose.

Children living this effect are becoming less sensitive to environmental stimuli, and increasingly need. They are become hyperactive, or are unmotivated while his imagination and creativity are dwindling. It costs a lot of time focusing on one activity, and feel their thoughts jostle each other.

We need to boredom

It may seem paradoxical, but we need more than ever that children have time to get bored. We need to take time every day to carry out activities not previously structured, organized and controlled by rigid and predetermined rules.

They must have the opportunity to create their own structures, rules and parameters. I think that adults who are not able to innovate, to adapt, change or evolve and bring something to the lives of those around them, children are often deprived of the possibility to create and experiment. You need to be able to explore, and the possibility of being wrong.

Define boredom as the lack of motivation that incites physical or mental action .So, if a child is bored and wants to act you will have to end up finding or creating their own motivations. That will ultimately motivate themselves and no doubt that will fit will.

A boy or a girl in a park, with a stick, sand and a few stones create a whole world. Sitting at a table with a box full of clips clothesline, organize a car race, will develop a battle or perform some type of construction. A blank sheet, a pencil and several markers will lead to all kinds of creations…

Children today, more than ever, need to have unstructured time and directed by their elders. Overstimulation, constant external motivation and continuous chain of tasks and activities scheduled cluttering them, overwhelm and choke his need to create.

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A Decalogue

Summarize my main recommendations in the following Decalogue:

  • Make sure that your children / as have frequently unstructured time. Real free time!
  • Reduce extracurricular activities to a minimum as necessary. Prioritize and take into account those who are initiative themselves.
  • No forward their demands do not burn too early stages. They need to stop and savor every age and every stage. Respect their rate of maturation.
  • Interact and play with them if asked, but not organize or develop the standards.
  • Control access to the Internet and new technologies. They should not become priority or form their main form of entertainment. Set schedules.
  • Distancing the use of computers, tablets or mobile phones when going to bed. Sleep is essential, and the brain needs time to get back to normal after the stimuli received during the use of these devices.
  • Supervise the cartoon series they see. Check if you are able to see a chapter and in what state is later. Some generate a state of very considerable anxiety.
  • Your children need contact with nature. The pace it establishes acts as a true balm. They need to touch, smell, feel and experience in open and natural spaces.
  • Control unnecessary noise. If someone wants to watch TV at home, listening to music or discuss, others do not necessarily share.
  • Give all possible attention to your comments, questions and observations. Nothing they say is superficial, although initially cannot understand what they are trying to tell us.

This does not mean that over stimulation is the answer to all similar cases. My intention is only to provide resources and ideas to parents who can relate.

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