The summer holidays are close at hand and with them the excitement and potential of weeks of less structured activity for your daughter. Many families will have a holiday together and that gives time for a family to reconnect and create shared memories. Some periods of time will no doubt be spent with friends or doing activities or, if your daughter is older, perhaps doing bridging work or consolidating learning. Often parents are working and feel the pressure to juggle supervision with providing a wealth of diversions and entertainments and I’d like to offer a few thoughts to ponder about how you might approach this balance.
Please allow your daughter time to get bored! A quick search on the internet results in a plethora of psychologists and parenting websites advocating for periods of time when activities aren’t planned. Key ideas include that boredom creates opportunities for creativity, and for children to practise the ability to manage the feeling of under-stimulation that boredom engenders. If you really want to accelerate the opportunity for boredom, you could have phone/device-free days or half days and help them learn to manage time without the easy stimulation that these devices bring.
Young people will throw out the challenge of ‘I’m bored’ as something for you to fix, it isn’t.
By all means show a mild interest at the statement and then suggest they ‘unbore’ themselves by finding something to do. You will be actively investing in your daughter for those occasions when, as a young adult, she finds herself alone at a weekend when housemates are elsewhere.
Please provide opportunities for your daughter to be thanked and valued by assigning her chores for the holidays. Please be clear, I’m not suggesting that she spends her entire time in servitude, simply that she contributes in whatever way you choose, so that she isn’t a guest in her own family with all needs catered for. Please don’t remunerate her or ‘count’ cleaning her own bedroom as her chore. This is about the whole family and not just her needs. Similarly, if she can offer spare time occasionally to volunteer beyond the family home, she can experience that wonderful satisfaction of helping others which is proven to have huge benefits for mental well-being.
It is my experience of working with children and young people that those who contribute, who can entertain themselves and who are active physically are the individuals that manage the inevitable ups and downs of life with the most poise and resilience. These skills do take a bit of practising and the summer holidays provide an ideal opportunity. May I wish you and your daughters a very happy (and occasionally boring) summer break.