Toys, Technology, Boredom and that other stuff.
Before I start my blog post for today, please hear me out. I’m a mother myself and I know the pressures we as parent’s face EVERY SINGLE DAY trying to raise our children as best as we know how. We constantly get thrown with contradicting information and so often I find myself sitting face between my palms overwhelmed by the magnitude of opinions out there. As an OT, I so often get asked the question by parents, “What toys can I buy my child to help with his or her development, diagnosis or difficulties?” Which brings me to today’s rocky topic: Toys, technology and anything else that’s designed to occupy our children.
I remember finding myself ±25 weeks pregnant in the middle of a baby expo surrounded by hundreds of stalls selling me the notion that without a certain gadget or tool I would most likely fail as a new parent. My feet were swollen, my eyes teared up and I wondered, how in the world could I ever afford all of the ‘must have’ items that were being sold to me. Needless to say, I left that expo empty handed and looking back now, lighter than ever.
Here’s the thing, as a therapist, I’m a firm believer in the less-is-more movement when it comes to toys and technology. I’m not saying I’m against it at all, I mean, I am an OT at the end of the day. OT’s love toys! I truly believe that there is a time and a place for it. Conversely, I also believe that there is a time and a place for our children to experience boredom. GASP! Did I really just say that? Yes - Here’s why; I once heard this one liner by Amanda Cook, saying that “boredom creates innovation”. Isn’t that put so beautifully? Boredom teaches our children the craft of creativity. It teaches our children to design, reason, explore and think beyond the known. In essence it teaches them to dream of what could be and creates a space where they have to rely on their own abilities to do so.
My answer to most of the parents that ask me the question above is usually; please don’t be fooled by the commercial world, you don’t always have to buy expensive toys or tools, sometimes it’s just about providing our children with a time and space to play freely. Maybe every so often, facilitate boredom. How can one do this, you may ask?
What if every now and again we had no-technology days. What if instead of the box of toys we just placed a big empty box in front of our children? What if we took our children to an empty field and just said, GO? Gave them a box of old bottle lids and said, PLAY? No direction, no dictation, no structure, just good old fashioned child-directed playing. Allowing them to learn through cause-and-effect and through their own uniquely designed body structure.
Why don’t you join me in brainstorming more ideas on how to facilitate boredom by leaving a comment below?
I look forward to reading it!