Can boredom cause your kids to commit crimes?
Being bored can be good for kids, but for some, it might actually lead to trouble. Find out how exactly boredom can lead to juvenile delinquency and what you can do to prevent such behaviour in your children
Being bored may be beneficial to your child’s development as it allows them to develop self awareness and also give them the freedom to discover what their talents are — but in some cases, boredom could actually lead to trouble.
Despite being a relatively good student in school, Daryl Lim Jun Liang had a brush with the law last year when he was involved in four incidents of assault against some foreign workers in Singapore — all because “he was bored”.
Dr Maimunah Fadzil, a gynaecologist in Malaysia, has also revealed that there is an alarming trend of children falling prey to paedophiles, taking part in immoral activities, and that the Malacca Hospital treats around three children every week for sexual abuse. She partly attributes this to “a lack of options in terms of healthy pastimes.”
Joseph Califano, Chairman and President of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, also explains that boredom can cause teens to engage in thrill-seeking inappropriate or illegal activities, such as smoking, drinking or using drugs.
But will children really commit crimes and get up to all sorts of mischief simply because they are bored?
Is boredom really to blame?
Feeling bored is a great way to let your mind wander and also come up with different ways to occupy your time — but problems will only occur when children are not given proper guidance and don’t know where exactly to direct their energy and end up making the wrong decisions by engaging in illegal or criminal activities.
Psychologist, Carl E. Pickhardt, Ph.D, says, “Boredom is simply a normal response to not knowing what to do with one’s energy, not knowing how to direct one’s life at the moment, feeling at a momentary loss about finding a meaningful way to connect with oneself, other people, or the world. Boredom is a functional. It creates a state of dissatisfaction that motivates people to find something meaningful to do, be it of the passively entertaining or of the self-entertaining kind.”
Being bored is not the sole driving factor behind why your child would end up engaging in immoral activities or committing crimes — there are two other main factors that also play a major part:
1. No positive role models
We all need role models to look up to and seek inspiration from, and having a good role model can even help steer us in the right direction towards success in life.
But if children do not have a positive role model to learn from or follow, this could lead them astray and possibly cause self-destructive behaviour.
If your son looks up to his chain-smoking uncle who spends most of his earnings on placing bets at the horse races or buying lottery tickets, this could possibly influence him to also pick up smoking and try his hand at gambling in future.
Anuradha Sahastrabudhe, Director of Dnyana Devi Childline, agrees that children will imitate what they see happening around them and will also emulate their role models, even if they are negative ones.
So it is important that you become a good example for your child and display positive traits that you would want him to follow, or help him find a positive role model — this can be a family member, an older sibling, a teacher, a caregiver, or even someone from the media (just as long as they are a good influence).
What is the other factor that can drive your child to commit crimes? Go to the next page to find out!
2. Lack of close parental supervision
When kids are left all alone without proper adult supervision and have nothing to do, this is when they might engage in undesirable activities as a way to occupy themselves and pass the time.
According to the Singapore Children’s Society Youth Services, there is a rising number of parents in Singapore seeking Beyond Parental Control (BPC) orders for assistance in managing their children aged 16 and below who have behavioural problems.
The Society feels that this could be due to less family caregiver support being given now, so they are encouraging parents to spend more quality time with their children so as to understand what makes them tick.
It is important that you spend enough time with your kids, form a strong parent-child bond and have an open communication with them so that they turn to you for advice and guidance, without resorting to negative activities or juvenile delinquency.
What your kids can do when they’re bored
It’s normal to feel bored at times and if you notice that your child doesn’t know what to do in his spare time or is sitting there listlessly because everything is “so boring” to him, here are a few ideas you can suggest:
- Read a book
- Do some household chores
- Exercise (jogging, cycling, swimming, brisk walking, join the gym)
- Take part in sports (football, basketball, cricket, etc)
- Bake or cook something
- Play a musical instrument or compose a song
- Paint or draw a picture, or just create some art
- Listen to music and sing some tunes out loud
- Help a younger sibling do homework
- Do volunteer work at a local charity
- Bring the pet dog for a walk
- Write some poetry or a short story
- Do some gardening
- Sew, knit or crochet something
It’s also a great idea for you to take part in these activities with your kids to show them your support and help make sure they stay far away from trouble!
Do you think boredom in children can lead to self-destructive behaviour? What do you do to ensure that your children are not too bored? Share your thoughts with us below