The Wall Street Journal:
When it comes to summer vacation, Victoria Lau works hard to keep her 6-year-old’s days interesting and full. The South San Francisco, Calif., stay-at-home mom sets a weekly activity plan, which includes regular swimming and karate lessons and everything from exploring the local library to crafting origami butterflies and mucking around with Play-Doh.
Still, she says, Carter has already voiced the dreaded summer lament. “My son does get bored,” she says. “And I do get frustrated.”
As summer begins, those two little words—”I’m bored”—can touch a raw nerve in parents, many of whom often chide their child for laziness, or blame themselves for failing to provide enough fun and stimulation.
New research suggests both conclusions are off-base. Kids who complain of boredom aren’t necessarily lazy or slacking off, but are actually in a tense, negative state, says a 2012 study in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science. Frustrated and struggling to engage, they often find themselves unable to focus their attention or get started on satisfying activities.
“We assign a lot of social meaning to boredom,” says John D. Eastwood, an associate professor of psychology at York University in Toronto, and lead author of the study. “When children complain of being bored, parents sometimes are threatened, thinking, ‘What’s wrong with you?’
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