“I’m Bored…!”

“There’s nothing to do!” How many times have we heard that from a child or said it as a child!? It’s a common complaint usually heard more often during the long stretches of unplanned time that comes with summer.

When I was growing up, when my sisters or I said we were bored, I still remember my mother’s response. “People who say they’re bored are boring.” Mom was a wonderful, loving, fun woman, but she did not suffer our foolishness. Her message to us was that with all our tangible and intangible resources (creativity, imagination, energy, safety, nature, toys, etc.) there was no reason for us to be bored. And she was right a few minutes of lackadaisical questions back and forth between my sister and me. “What do you want to do?” “I don’t know. What do YOU want to do?” Sometimes it just started with us lying “bored” in the grass staring at clouds or up through the leaves. One thing would lead to another. A conversation would start. A challenge would be made or an idea expressed. And we’d be occupied for hours with some project or game.

One of my family’s fun memories was born out of boredom. It was a multi-family neighborhood summer picnic. Most of us kids were in our teens and early 20’s. There was definitely a lull in the activity. Someone picked up a beach ball and tossed it over the badminton net. Someone else picked it up and batted it back over the net. Someone else mentioned the volleyball scene in the movie “Top Gun.” Next thing you know we all were assigned nicknames (some Top Gun-themed, some not) that we remember to this day! Many ridiculous rules were agreed upon (like “random side switch!” or “Dr. Mesmer ball spin!”), and we played into the darkness that evening, laughing until our stomachs hurt. That was the summer that Estee Ball (named for the free with purchase Estee Lauder beachball!) was born. It was game born out of boredom (!) and played for years to come at family picnics!

It may take some patience and the ability to tune out some whining. Give your children a chance to be “bored.” Don’t step in. They’ve got boundless imagination and energy to tap into. You may be surprised by the results.

Here are a few pieces about boredom and children:

Children Should Be Allowed To Get Bored, Expert Says –BBC

What Happens When We Shield Kids from Boredom

Being Bored is a Luxury – and For Kids It Can Be Magical from The Guardian

This one is a little more in-depth about boredom, not just in children, and connections with mindfulness:

Is Boredom All Bad?

Have a boring weekend!

Laura

Manchester

We are faced once again with a tragedy. The terrorist attack in Manchester, England at a pop concert has us once again reeling. It’s normal to feel helpless and not know how to address this news with your children. I’ve attached a link to a CNN article about talking to children about tragic events.

How to talk to kids about tragic events – CNN.com

Briefly, limit your child’s exposure to news and social media. Particularly younger children can be confused when video clips are played over and over again and believe that the event is occurring over and over again as well.

Reassure your child that they are safe. This may feel difficult to do, since we adults may not feel very safe, but this is important. You can tell your child that all the adults (from parents to the government) are doing everything they can to keep everyone safe. And while events like this are tragic and frightening, they are in fact very rare.

Only give them as much information as they’re asking for and consider where they are developmentally when answering their questions. Some children may have lots of question and some may have none at all.

It’s ok to tell them that what happened has scared or worried you. You are role modeling real and legitimate emotions. But make sure that you are showing that you are managing those emotions. If you feel overwhelmed, step away or change the subject. If you’re emotions are too much, a child may feel responsible or that they have to fix things and that creates undue stress for a child.

Change the focus. Point out the acts of kindness and courage around these types of events. As Mr. Fred Rogers said “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

There’s nothing easy about these kinds of world events. Take your cue from your child as to what they need from you. And if you have any concerns about your child or questions about what to say or do, please don’t hesitate to call or email me. I’m here to help.

-Laura

This and That

Great Kindness Challenge 2017!

First off, we had a terrific Great Kindness Challenge the week of May 1. It was fun for all of us to spend a few days celebrating and putting the spotlight on kindness. Students started the week signing a Kindness Pledge banner that was later hung in the lobby. We had members of the Gilman community from other divisions greet the children each morning and read inspirational quotes throughout the day. Here are just a few:

  • “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” (Desmond Tutu)
  • “Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness.” (Leo Tolstoy)
  • “When words are both true and kind they can change our world.” (Buddha)

One of the most successful activities this year was the Kind-it Wall where students and faculty could write compliments and kind notes on sticky-notes and attach to the Kind-it Wall. It filled up quickly with so many positive thoughts! Parents hosted a Kindness Station on Wednesday morning where students could do kindness-related crafts and activities. Based on the Kindness checklists turned in, our students committed more than 3,000 acts of kindness! We’re looking forward to next year’s Great Kindness Challenge in February!

13 Reasons Why

On a more serious note, while this controversial Netflix series is not geared towards or appropriate for elementary school age children, if they have older siblings you may be hearing about this show about a high school student who commits suicide. I thought it could be helpful for you to see what was included in the Upper School newsletter:

The on-line streaming company, Netflix, recently launched a series titled 13 Reasons Why which is an adaptation of Jay Asher’s young adult novel with the same name. The 13-hour series navigates the aftermath of a high school student’s suicide as well as topics such as teenage depression, relationships, social media, bullying, sexuality, and sexual assault.  The program is rated MA for mature audiences and is not recommended for vulnerable or younger teens. There are several graphic scenes throughout the series and we would therefore recommend that teens who watch the program do so with the guidance and support of a parent or guardian. If you know that your son has watched the series, we recommend that you have a conversation with him to see how he processed it and if he has any questions. Below are some resources we hope will help. If you or your son have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact our school counselor, John Mojzisek (jmojzisek@gilman.edu), who is working on some in-school discussions as well.

https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis/preventing-youth-suicide/preventing-youth-suicide-tips-for-parents-and-educators

https://fitzbetweentheshelves.com/2017/04/25/family-connection-resources-for-talking-to-your-child-about-13-reasons-why/

https://www.save.org/blog/tips-watching-new-netflix-series-13-reasons/ .  

Of course, I am available if you have any questions about this.

Take a Moment

Lastly, this is a fun but stressful time of the school year. If you or your child feels overwhelmed, you may want to try some mindful meditation. Throughout the year I’ve been working with most homerooms on different ways to practice mindfulness. You might ask your son what mindfulness is and how can you practice it. (Hopefully he’ll tell you mindfulness is about focusing on the here and now, and we’ve practiced it listening to a bell, focusing on our breath, and focusing on our surroundings, among other things.) In any case, enjoy the ramp up to the end of the school year and start of summer!