We live in an age unlike any prior, where we are constantly bombarded by visual and auditory stimulation from TV’s, tablets, computers, phones, headphones, etc. Our children are especially susceptible to the negative effects of constant stimulation as they have not had to live in a world that doesn’t have constant sources of entertainment readily available. In other words, our kids don’t know how to be bored! So why is this a problem? For one thing, the influx of media is largely happening while the child is sitting in one place.
This leads to the child not getting up, moving and playing which is extremely important for them to learn how their body works and build skills needed for daily living. As a physical therapist, I often see kids with coordination and strength deficits simply because they have never had to use their bodies for more than poking at a screen and walking around. This can be very frustrating for a child when they are asked to participate in a physical game or sport and they just can’t get their bodies to cooperate.
Poor behaviors can start to be seen from this frustration and from not being physically active enough in general. The body craves movement and when that need is not satisfied, it can manifest in kids throwing themselves down, running into things, thrashing on the floor or just simply being jittery and disruptive. That’s the brain trying to fulfill a need and a kid not knowing how to deal with that feeling. Limiting screen time and other forms of passive visual and auditory stimulation may cause your kids to sit there and repeatedly proclaim “I’m bored!”. But through boredom you may start to see creative play start to emerge and physical play as well, both of which are crucial for proper brain and physical development.
Home programming to help your child start to recognize their body through movement can be provided by a physical therapist, as well as recommendations for community programs and even physical or occupational therapist led classes to improve physical and mental health. So, let your kids be bored and see what benefits can come from it! If you need any help along the way, please don’t hesitate to reach out to TEAM for Kids to spend some time with a physical or occupational therapist who can guide you towards an independent program.
–Steve Sargol, PT DPT BS Kinesiology and all around cool dude