My kids are always complaining of being “bored”. With so much to do, I can’t imagine how they could possibly be bored. I try to make school fun and interesting, but still get, “I’m bored!” How do I teach them that not all life is fun and games, and that sometimes you just need to overcome boredom?
“I’m bored!” is a common cry among young and old alike. In fact, surveys indicate that up to half of Americans are temporarily or permanently bored. What is boredom, and how do we overcome it?
Boredom can be described as a lack of interest or an absence of feeling. It is a kind of emotional flatness. Having “nothing to do” is often blamed for boredom, but boredom is more associated with work being routine, meaningless, repetitious, and mindless than there being a lack of things to do. Boredom will not be overcome with a heavier workload.
Children, and unfortunately some adults, will say they are ”bored” because they lack the vocabulary to properly identify what is really going on in their minds and hearts. Expanding your child’s vocabulary and communication skills will help to overcome the feelings of boredom.
Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun. Ecclesiastes 2:11 (KJV)
Maybe your child feels, like Solomon, that work and leisure is vanity, leaving him feeling empty and unsatisfied and causing a vexation of spirit i.e. life. Perhaps he senses that what he is doing is of no profit. You, and your older children, may benefit greatly from reading the complete book of Ecclesiastes, the writings of someone who has “been there and done that.” Closely examine your child’s work and leisure time to determine if they are in fact profitable to him. Don’t help to cause a vexation of spirit by requiring a bunch of seemingly irrelevant busywork, or unedifying free time activities. Be ready to answer your child with, “This work/leisure is relevant and profitable because…”
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (KJV)
Closely related to the above, your child may feel directionless or like what he is doing is meaningless. What he wants is purpose. Help him to prayerfully see the purpose of his actions, or redirect him to do things more purposefully, seeking out the purpose and call of God.
Lack of Joy
Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:24 (KJV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Galatians 5:22 (KJV)
Your child may feel uninspired or emotionally and/or spiritually flat. He may lack joy. Lack of joy is a heart condition that can only be cured by the Holy Spirit. Is there something bothering your child, maybe an unrepented sin, keeping him from experiencing fullness of joy? I can’t stress the correlation between boredom and brokenness enough, and the importance of making any necessary repairs to his relationship with God immediately.
But Godliness with contentment is great gain. 1 Timothy 6:6 (KJV)
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. Philippians 4:11 (KJV)
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5 (KJV)
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Romans 1:21 (KJV)
Your child may feel discontent, like the things he is doing or has are insufficient. He may be “bored” with his toys or electronic gadgets because he does not think they are enough. He needs to learn, like Paul did, to be content where he is at. This contentment can be learned through constant thanksgiving. Encourage your child to count his blessings, naming them one by one, and to thank the Lord for each. Don’t allow his heart to be darkened with discontent due to a lack of gratitude.
But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Romans 8:25 (KJV)
But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 1 Timothy 6:11 (KJV)
Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. James 1:3-4 (KJV)
Your child may be restless or impatient. He finds waiting to be “boring” and lacks patience. While it is tempting to give children busy work to fill in those gaps of time, what children really need to learn is to keep sabbath. I’m not talking about the seventh day Sabbath, but rather the contemplative and prayerful resting periods that should be interspersed in between our times of work and leisure. Keeping sabbath will help to gain eternal perspective and insight, transforming times of restlessness into meaningful and active periods of waiting on and for God.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (KJV)
Whatever your child is doing, be it work, leisure or sabbath, do it all to the glory of God. Without this, all things will lead to vanity and vexation of spirit (life). Graciously fearing God and keeping His commandments is the whole duty of man, and attending to this needful thing is the one and only way to truly conquer “boredom”.