With technology, consumerism, and extracurricular activities for kids, we have created a world where children lead highly structured lives, with little time to just ‘be.’ Now due to SARS-COV-2 kids are isolated in their homes without the high structure of these offerings. Kids are becoming bored, and not sure what to do. But far from being a bad thing, periods of boredom, where children have to rely on themselves for entertainment, are essential to a healthy childhood.
Let's take a look at how your child will benefit from being bored.
1. Boredom encourages imagination and creativity.
When children are left to their own devices, they’re forced to be more creative and imaginative in finding ways to amuse themselves. ‘Giving them opportunities to try things of their own volition builds their sense of discovery and curiosity and helps them explore what brings them joy.' Research has found that people who are given a range of boring tasks to complete show more imagination when they’re then asked to take part in a creative thinking activity.
2. Boredom teaches ‘grit’ ‘resilience’
These have become buzzwords in schools, referring to children developing a ‘have a go’ attitude and not being put off when things are tough.
Being bored – or having to think of ways to amuse themselves – is an important way to develop this ‘grit.’ Everyone wants to believe they’re good at everything, but children who never experience failure don’t know how to deal with it when it arises. Having free time to try things out without the fear of failure is essential if a child is to develop grit and resilience.
3. Boredom develops problem-solving skills.
Does your child expect you to come up with something for them to do whenever they’re at a loose end? Well, stop intervening, because being bored will help them develop their problem-solving skills. In a world where children are constantly stimulated, they can feel uncomfortable if they don’t have anything to do. This encourages initiative and problem-solving, as they have to rely on themselves to tackle the ‘problem’ of being bored.
4. Boredom helps children form relationships
Having unstructured time to play with other children will help your child develop interpersonal skills that are becoming lost to the technology obsessed generation. If children are given time and space with nothing to distract them, it helps them to negotiate and collaborate with each other and develop activities jointly. They’re learning to communicate, make eye contact and read body language: things that can only be learnt from experience.
5. Boredom builds confidence
When your child has opportunities to occupy themselves, and manages to do so successfully, it gives their self-esteem a boost. When they have free time, they can try new things, test their limits and take risks, which will all build their confidence.
6. Boredom improves mental health
Today’s kids (and adults, too) tend to be so busy that there’s little time to be still and let their minds wander. Having time to just “be” gives them the opportunity to think their own thoughts and get to know themselves better. Research has shown that allowing the mind time to wander rather than being focused on activities all the time is very important for mental health.
7. Boredom creates a sense of belonging
As well as having time to think, unstructured downtime gives children a greater sense of community. If children are always busy with some focused activity, they take their surroundings for granted, It’s important that they have the chance to engage with their environment so they feel a sense of belonging to where they live.
8. Boredom makes childhood happier
Your child may argue that being bored is, well, boring, but actually, it could make their childhood happier overall. When adults talk about their childhood memories, no one ever mentions anything material. It’s always the simple things they remember: connections, laughter and nature. All the activities that we think are making childhood richer are just getting in the way of a simple but contented life.
Adapted from: The School Run & The Science Behind How Boredom Benefits Creative Thought