I’m a big fan of unstructured time for kids. And it’s never as easy to schedule as it will be during the summer months. I think it can be tempting for parents to fill kids’ summer days up with activities, camps, playdates and daytrips. And, I’m not against any of these. Certainly, if child care is needed, or your child needs to catch up in summer school, these structured activities may not even be optional. But, too often, I think parents feel like they have to keep their kids busy, or they’re not being good parents. And that’s just not true.
I hope parents will take some time this summer to allow their kids to do nothing, to putter around in the back yard or the neighborhood, to lie on the hammock and read a book. It’s OK for your child to be bored, children need to learn to entertain themselves, not just to participate in structured activities. Children learn creativity from doing things on their own. They learn to make friends when they’re drawn to interact with the other neighborhood kids.
Notice that I’m not talking about TV or video games here. Again, I’m not against TV or video games. I think they can be an appropriate relaxation activity for some kids, and they are a huge part of children’s cultural world. But, screen time, whether TV, video game or computer, is still a place where your child is being entertained. There’s no need to figure out how to entertain yourself amidst the flashing lights and the laugh track.
Instead, let’s just do nothing. In honor of that, I think I’ll cut back on my summer blog posting schedule, so I have some down time too.
Patricia Robinson MFT
I'm a licensed therapist in Danville, California and a coach for Asperger's and ADHD nationwide. I work with individuals of all ages who have special needs, like Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADD, ADHD, and the family members and partners of special needs individuals.