THE COMPLETED EXPANSION OF Ohel Yaacob Congregation, LAWRENCE AVENUE SYNAGOGUE

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TEACHING KIDS TO BE PROACTIVE

By: Tammy Sassoon



Many children depend upon their parents to keep them happy and entertained. Often, parents feel guilty when their children tell them they’re bored, and snap at them as a result. The truth is, this is one area in which all of us can sit back and relax, because it is NOT our responsibility to keep our older children busy. In fact, it is harmful to them to thinkthat keeping busy is anyone’s responsibility but their own.

In order to help our children become independent thinkers and doers, we need to let them know that we firmly believe that they can find constructive ways to keep busy. Of course, we can offer encouragement or even advice if they are interested, but ultimately, they are the ones who get to decide whether they will remain bored or not. Boredom is a choice. It is a choice not to use one’s body or brain productively.

As soon as children become old enough to understand, we must teach them different activities they can engage in to keep themselves busy and happy. I like to teach my children these skills when they are in a great mood rather than the opposite. We wouldn’t teach someone how to swim while they are drowning. Likewise, it wouldn’t be helpful to teach someone how to keep busy while they are complaining about their lack of activity. (Although, in the midst of their complaint, you can let your child know that you are there to help guide him.)

Once you start teaching your child “keeping busy” skills, you will begin to notice that they aren’t saying “I’m bored!” as often as they used to. Here are a few suggestions, but of course I recommend you be creative and come up with many more of your own.

Keeping Busy

Ways To Keep Your Body Busy

Exercising

Playing ball with a younger sibling

Jumping on a trampoline

Riding a bike or scooter

 

Ways To Keep Your Brain Busy

Solving a Rubik’s Cube

Solving a crossword puzzle

Drawing or coloring

Playing cards with a friend

Writing cards for grandparents

Making jewelry for relatives

 

These are just a few very simple examples. Remember, we have to teach our children how to be creative. Some people tell me that they or their kids are not creative. I tell them I don’t buy that. Everyone is creative in different ways. If I were to give you a piece of paper, scissors, and glue, and tell you that if you could make something useful out of it within two minutes, you’d get $100, surely you would come up with something! The same presumption applies here. Once we motivate our kids and proceed to get the ball rolling, they become much more adept at using their bodies and brains to keep busy.