Feeding Your Kids Boredom, Another Cornerstone of NOFOMO Living

beautyofboredom

Here it goes, day 2 of my #YourTurnChallenge
(I am challenging myself to post everyday this week – so bare with me, very little editing is done.  Apologize in advance the spelling and grammatical errors.  I really want to practice the “just ship” discipline. )

Many people would not believe me when I first tell them our boys do have not watched a day of television, a lick of computer time and played with my phone, let alone a learning app on the iPad.

But when our friends and family experience them in person, (they are six and three and a half years old) they do feel there is something quite different with the way they interact with the world and mostly they cannot put a finger as to why that is.

This is not a post bragging about how amazing my children is. This is a post on our experience and objective observation on the effects of our No Media discipline.

I too had my doubts. For a long time I just chalked up my first born as one of those rare kids that is naturally good at playing on his own, by chance. We lucked out.

But when the second boy came along, I began to realize soon after his birth that this is not the case OR that I have won the lottery twice.

After six years into this discipline, I feel I can safely say that the No Media Policy (for the kids only, we do use our mobile devices but rarely in their faces, and watch movies when they are asleep) that our commitment to trying is out is paying off in thousand folds.

Most people don’t see how it can be different, they think that kids are kids, and like candy, they just have to experience it somehow, somewhere. Such is life.

I am speaking merely to the early childhood phase of course. I know things will change as they get older but during these foundation years, this kind of discipline we are upholding really does play a huge part on our children’s overall development.

Here is what we have learned and observed:

1. They can keep their attention span for a long time on any given subject of interest. From watching someone cook, to a construction worker working on the siding, to a person playing the violin on the street.

2. Their imagination is pure and dreamy. I would know that almost everything that they express is authentic to their character coming forth.

3. Their speech is clear and articulate. They don’t talk like a cartoon characters.

4. On a scientific level, boredom will help with a young child in the enrichment of the wiring of their brains, their neural plasticity.

Specifically from new born up to 4 (approx), the most optimal way to protect and aid in the synaptic refinement to their full potential is to keeping their environment as serene as possible.

In other words, less is really much more than we think, especially for a young child, contrary to how our modern society pushes the more is more philosophy.

In Dr. Lise Eliot’s book “ What’s Going On In There?, she mentioned :

“ The initial wiring of a particular brain region (the period of synapse overproduction) marks the onset of a particular ability, such as vision in the first few months and language in the second year. But it is the prolonged pruning period that fixes the overall quality of that ability, because this is when experience –translated into neural activity–decides which connections will be preserved and, consequently, how the brain will be permanently wired for certain ways of thinking, perceiving, and acting.

As long as an excess number of synapses are present, the brain remains maximally plastic and can develop in a variety of ways. But once those excess synapses are gone, the critical period is over, and it must make do with its existing circuitry; there is no trading up for a faster computer.”

So the next time your little kid is looking bored and staring out the window or in “space”, know that there is a WHOLE LOT going on in there and please do not “snap” them out of it.

5. Through boredom, we are giving them a gift of the space to rise above it and come up with new ideas on their own. Hence, in no time, especially when you are not afraid of “letting them be bored” from an early age, they will be come so skilled in playing on their own.

6. Last but not least. I have yet to teach our boys the actual word “bored”. So in many ways, they have yet to experiece it cognitively therefore they have never nagged and whined about being bored. In other words, what you don’t know won’t hinder you.

Now imagine how nice it is to be able to be in the same room as 2 toddlers and we are all doing our own thing together without the television on? Well, I really want to share with those of you who do not think it is possible that it is. It just takes the vision and the willingness to try out this discipline for at least a week. I can guarantee that peace will reign upon your household, and much longer than a tv program to say the least!

Go on and unplug that TV and iDevices. Just like weening off anything, the first few days will be tough but have the faith and know that in doing so, you will see a difference in the overall energy in your household and you will not want to turn it back on again…until they turn ten years old, maybe.

Much warmth,
Grace

Birthdays and Parties – A Simplified Outlook Part 1:

Our sweet Leo will be turning 2 next month.

Confession:  I have yet to do birthday “parties” for either one of our boys where invitations were sent, neither via an e-vite nor snail mail.  In today’s parenting culture, from time to time I do feel a bit reluctant to admit that it is actually not something we are very proactive with.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good party, have people over to our house, preparing delicious meals, the sharing and the connection . It is the over-the-top, the more the merrier kind of parties that make me think twice.

Now that I am more aware of my own childhood, as I look back I realize birthdays were not such a big deal in my family.  Partly it is because my birthday is on Christmas Eve (Church and Jesus took center stage) .  Mostly it was because everyone was just too busy.  It was remembered and a family dinner was prepared or dining out was scheduled.  I was not modelled on how a good kids birthday party was thrown.  As I got older, and went to other people’s birthday parties, I didn’t recall having that much of a good time.  It was usually frenzied, chaotic, noisy and rushing to get the candles and cake part done – and then the presents.  It was always tearing out the wrapping and trying to get through the pile before anyone can take a breath.  There was never any order to these parties and it often just felt messy to me.

As our youngest boy will be turning 2 in a month, the idea of “to have or not to have” a birthday party has been circling my thoughts.  The first thing I always ask myself is:

“If we are going to have a birthday party, is it going to be a party for me (the adults) or is it going to be for the little ones?”

Leland1stBdayCake

For Leland’s first birthday 3 years ago, I made a rich dark chocolate cake for just us (the grandparents and the two of us) to enjoy.  We did have candles and I did put his name on the cake and we even took photos of him watching us blow out the candle.  It was truly simple and sweet.  We knew that Leland would not remember this particular birthday but the photos will show him that it was important, acknowledged and celebrated.  We didn’t at all feel the pressure of having a big shindig, in fact we felt it was quite authentic to our own (developing) family culture.

Leo1stBdayCake

For Leo’s first birthday last summer, it was a bit different.  Since the older brother was 3 and much more aware, we decided to do a simple birthday breakfast with just the 4 of us.  We made a blueberry pancake tower and sang a few songs.  It felt as though it was Leland that enjoyed the experience the most.  For him, it was all about the candles, lighting them and blowing them out.  There were no presents, except for a birthday ring that had photos of Leo throughout the year and ONE wood decoration on the ring.

So far my goal it still trying to keep birthdays and celebrations as genuine and simple as we can.  While they grow to become more aware of their own birthdays, so will I in regards to how I will be carving out our own kind of birthday traditions.  My goal is to be part of developing with them a healthy, meaningful and heartfelt outlook with their own birthdays as well as the birthdays of their loved ones.