“Daddy, I am bored,” my six-year-old son comes into my home office complaining. I have a feeling of déjà vu. I have heard this before. In fact all my children around this age have shown up with the very same expression: “Daddy, I am bored.” I used to think that they lacked for ideas of what to do. And so, I used to come up with at least a dozen suggestions. It never seemed to work though. My children left seemingly unsatisfied with my suggestions. I used to brush off my discomfort by remembering what I had read in popular psychology columns, that it was a good thing to be bored. As the years passed my two older home-schooled children are no longer in this stage. I never hear them complain about being bored. They seem to have found that never ceasing inner-well of creativity, filling them with endless curiosity. Yes, they show up at my home office, but more likely with precise questions like, ”What is a black hole?” or “What is the difference between government and parliament?” or “Why does a car have a gearbox?”
After studying the Neufeld paradigm I obtained words to many things I knew intuitively, and I also received confirmation of others things of which I was not fully certain. But I never understood the meaning of “Daddy, I am bored” until taking one of the Neufeld Distance Education courses.
Armed with this new knowledge I felt quite excited when my six-year-old came into my home office expressing, “Daddy, I am bored.” I caught his eyes and said: “Oh really, are you bored?” He nodded. I pat my hands on my lap, and I smile and said to him, “Come and sit on daddy’s lap.” He comes reluctantly and sits on my lap. But once there, things start to shift. Within a minute I can feel how he is relaxing in my presence. I make sure he is sitting comfortably. Then sometimes we look at something together on the computer and sometimes we talk about something. Other times I simply keep on working with my son on my lap. After a few minutes I can feel how his energy returns. Soon he says with a big smile: “Now, I know what I am going to do!” and off he goes.
I now understand that being bored typically does not have anything to do with lack of things to do, not even lack of exciting things to do. It has to do with the lack of inner energy due to lack of attachment. A child who lacks attachment often becomes obsessed about attachment. Saying “I am bored” is actually saying, “I don’t have the energy to do anything. I need a hug, or a lap to sit on, or a talk with someone I am attached to, like Mummy or Daddy or Granny.” When the child’s attachment needs are fulfilled, the emergent energy (inner energy) flows and the child sees a multitude of possibilities of what to do on the inner from within himself.
In today’s busy life it is often not obvious what is behind many of our children’s challenges and behaviours. Lack of contact with those they are attached to is a common cause of a whole array of problems. We need to nurture our children’s attachment to us, whatever they are doing, because in doing so we give them the energy they need to thrive, mature, and learn.