Boredom can be frustrating for parents. But it can actually be really good for children’s development – and here’s why.
I’ve been there, and I know it can be irritating complaints like ‘I’m soooo bored’ or ‘I don’t know what to do’ instinctively trigger a range of emotions in me – from frustration at my children’s lack of ability to play with their numerous toys at that time, to a strong desire to suggest lots of fun activity ideas and set up resources for them. (On that note, some educational play ideas and family hobby ideas can be found here).
Sometimes, I just can’t help myself, and find myself going to find toys, craft materials, and other resources to offer up to them in a bid to find something which inspires their imagination. Sometimes, I send them to go look at their toys and books to see what they can find themselves. Sometimes, I stop what I am doing and play with them.
And sometimes, I do nothing. In fact, more often than not, I am the cause of their boredom!
But why would I want to make my children intentionally bored?!
I often get a lot of strange or curious reactions from parents when I talk about this, but I have many reasons why I think this is the right thing to do for my children, and why I feel it works for our family. Read on to find out the positive benefits of actively encouraging boredom!
So how do I actively promote boredom?
More and more often in my house, we are having what we’ve come to call ‘no technology days’, where we cannot use anything which has a screen, including the TV. On these days, I do not get them any toys or resources out (but they can access them all themselves), nor do I give them any ideas of what to do. Of course we can still talk to each other and spend time together, but in terms of play, they’re on their own!
Why is boredom good for children?
There are a number of very interesting reasons why I try not to fix my children’s boredom for them:
Boredom encourages creativity. Children who are bored, have to think of ideas to occupy themselves. This is especially true when they don’t have access to lots of toys, or have only neutral objects, and need to really consider how to use what they have creatively. (Read more on encouraging creativity here).
Boredom encourages curiosity. When children are bored, they notice their surroundings more (after all, they have nothing better to do in that moment). This leads to curiosity in new (or previously unnoticed) objects and spaces, and sparks natural curiosity and inspiration.
Boredom encourages imagination. Children who are bored often retreat to their imaginations, making up characters, games, dances and songs. This can be really great for a child’s creative development and self confidence and awareness.
Boredom encourages a deeper level of thinking. Children who are bored have to consider what they want to do, and what to do to stop being bored! This encourages a really considerate approach to their activity choices, as well as a thoughtful outlook to approaching tasks.
Boredom teaches self-sufficiency. A bored child who knows how to occupy themselves learns how to be self- sufficient and self-aware, as well as how to spend time in their own company. They learn to understand their deep interests, and what they enjoy doing independently. (For more information on developing independence in your child, click here).
Boredom encourages interaction and communication. Children who are not distracted with electronics and resources that don’t require much thought power learn to communicate their needs more effectively. They spend more time talking to those around them, and become more in tune with human interaction. (For more information on encouraging social skills in children, see this article).
Boredom helps inspire new interests. Bored children are more likely to try something new, as they not found inspiration in the activities and toys they already know. This can lead to a range of new interests, or a rekindling of previously forgotten interests. (For more ideas on child friendly hobbies, see this post).
Boredom supports skill development. Bored children who try new activities or interests often realise they have unnoticed skills, or develop existing skills in new ways.
Boredom encourages self- reflection. Children who are bored have more time to think for themselves. Let’s face it, most kids have a jam packed schedule including schooling and hobbies, and don’t get much time to just be peaceful. Being bored is a good opportunity to reflect on the things that are important to your child, and what they want to achieve.
There you have it – my top tips of what to consider when your child is complaining they have nothing to do. I hope I’ve helped you to understand that boredom isn’t a bad thing, and can be really inspiring for children (and also adults – if you’re up for a challenge, try the ‘no technology day’ idea with your children!). Of course, you don’t want to intentionally make your child bored all the time, but dipping your toe in to the world of boredom may work for you and your child.
Has your child ever done something amazing when motivated by boredom? Have you tried the ‘no technology day’ yourself? Let me know in the reply box below or on social media, I’d love to hear from you.
Love, Heather x
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