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Boredom: is this baby bored or am I?

As I said in my last post (open ended materials), I’m a firm believer that young children do not get bored. I believe boredom can be taught but, that naturally babies do not get bored.

Magda Gerber states, “I think what is typically called boredom is tiredness, lack of interest in what is present, or not agreeing to do what is presented. I don’t believe that babies become ‘bored’ in an adequate environment. Rather it is our own projection: we think they are bored. They may, however, develop a high tolerance or need for stimulation if constantly stimulated and entrained” Your self-confident baby (36)

I truly believe that Magda is correct, that instead of a child becoming bored, we get bored of watching what they are doing. This is a hard thing to admit! Our job is to observe and to learn about child so why would we get bored doing exactly what we have worked so hard to do? But it happens and it is important (and TOTALLY OKAY) to say I need to take a break.

I also agree that children can develop a high tolerance for stimulation. “Constant stimulation leads to an exhausted parent and an easily bored, over-stimulated child” Lansbury (47). When I think about constant stimulation I think about how a child is entertaining or provided with toys that move, flash or sing; “those toys grab the child’s attention rather than strengthening his ability to actively focus, investigate and interact” Lansbury (48). I also think about TV. This truly is a form of constant stimulation. There are fast sense changes, bright colors and a large verity of sounds. I attended the Annual Resources of Infant Educarers conference this past April. I got the privilege to hear Dimitri Christakis speak about media and young children. He has a very informative TED talk about TV watching in the early years of life and its affects. You should check it out!

I believe that boredom is actually taught through constant stimulation and our projections. As adults we have to remember that, literally everything in the world is new to a baby, how could this possibly be boring? “The world is full of things for babies to figure out” Gerber (161) and I also believe this to be true for toddlers. So when we start to think that a child is getting bored, we have to ask ourselves: is this child tired? Are they finished exploring that object and are ready to move on to something else? Am I providing this child with materials they want to discover and learn more about? And finally, how am I feeling? Am I projecting my own feelings on to this child?

Resources:

Gerber, Magda, edited by Joan Weaver. Dear parents: Caring for infants with respect. 2nd/Expanded Edition ed. Los Angeles: Recourses for Infant Educarers, 2002. Print.

Gerber, Magda, and Allison Johnson. Your self-confident baby. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1998. Print.

Lansbury, Janet. Elevating child care: a guide to respectful parenting. : JLML Press, 2014. Print.

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