The two words every parent dreads the most are ‘I’m bored!’ To avoid hearing these words, parents over-schedule their kids; offer an endless choice of toys, games, technology and TV time.
Parents will schedule play-dates and time to play with their kids, excursions and much more to avoid hearing those dreaded words, ‘I’m bored!’
While play-time with parents is very important to the parent-child relationship and also important to a child’s development, jumping in to entertain our children every time they are bored can have a very harmful affect on their development.
When a child is bored, all of a sudden, creativity starts to surface and with it other skills such as problem solving, critical thinking and creative play. Boredom can be an uneasy feeling, but without it their brains do not wander from what is happening every day both to them and around them. When a child is bored, he is given a chance to think outside the box; he starts to think of ways to entertain himself. Imagine all the beautiful things that can come out of that experience!
Why should parents encourage boredom?
1. Fosters independence: boredom allows children to be their own entertainers; it gives them a chance to take control over what they would like to do and how they will do it. Boredom in essence sparks independence and independent thinking. The opposite is true; if you are constantly entertaining them then they will always look for someone outside of themselves to help them fill up their time.
2. Builds creativity: When children are bored, they come up with the most creative ways to entertain themselves. They might start a dress-up party in their room, build a fort in your living room, write a poem or simply daydream. Research has shown that there is a strong correlation between creativity and daydreaming. So if you want to raise creative individuals then you need to make sure your kids are given a chance to be bored every once in a while. Like every muscle in your body, if not used it will get weak and wither; creativity works the same way.
3. Stress reliever: We all need time to unwind from our busy days; time to simply switch off without necessarily nodding off and going to sleep. Being bored helps a child’s body relax, and helps your child’s brain to rest and recharge.
4. Restful nights: Do you sleep better when you are stressed or after you unwind and de-stress? If boredom is a stress reliever, then it is also a great idea to help kids get a better night’s sleep. If a child is over-stimulated from a busy day of activities and then tries to sleep, he will use this time to finally unwind and de-stress which: 1) gives your child less actual sleep time, and 2) causes anxiety because a child who is not used to being bored can feel scared and anxious from feeling bored.
In today’s modern world, we have come to fear feelings of boredom and relate that to teen delinquency and worse. Children do not have to be bored 100% of the time nor should they be entertained or glued to screens 100% of the time either. Striking a balance between the two is a great way to create a happy medium.
If all else fails, I invite you to reflect on this quote by Louis C.K. and share it with your children: “‘I’m bored’ is a useless thing to say. I mean, you live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of. Even the inside of your own mind is endless, it goes on forever, inwardly, do you understand? The fact that you’re alive is amazing, so you don’t get to say ‘I’m bored’”.
If nothing else, this will be a great conversation starter between parent and child!.< Back