Do you feel constantly pressured to keep your child entertained? If you do, you are not alone.
We are all living in an ‘on-demand’ world. Overstimulation is just a way of life for most of us, where we have incessant access to games, videos, and movies. Our attention spans are at an all-time low and our obsession with productivity is at an all-time high.
So, when there is so much to do, how can one get bored? That’s a question we often ask ourselves and our children. ‘Boredom’ gets a bad reputation. We think a better question we should be asking is, ‘Why should (or shouldn’t) we let our children get bored?’
Getting bored is an essential part of a healthy childhood. Before the world was digital, children had to rely on themselves for entertainment. Now kids lead action-packed lives with organized activities, supervised game time, and negligible time to just be by themselves. Wasting time is seen as a bad thing but it is not. Idle time ignites creative sparks.
Here are three reasons you shouldn’t step in when your child feels bored, and let ennui take over:
Boredom is the place where great ideas are born
When Sir Isaac Newton stumbled upon one of the greatest discoveries in the world, he wasn’t hard at work surrounded by books and mathematical equations. Instead, he was daydreaming. Had he not been sitting idle under the apple tree back in 1687, we wouldn’t have known gravity.
After this, he made it a point to regularly take out time to ‘do nothing’. That’s when he got most of his ideas and answers to complex problems.
Even the game of basketball was invented by a man trying to overcome the tedium of a cold winter day.
Those hours of sitting idle and wandering aimlessly around the house won’t hurt your children. In fact, it will spark their creativity and they will be bursting with original ideas using their imagination.
Boredom unlocks the imagination vault
Leave children to their own devices and don’t push a structured day on them. When children see they are responsible for their own amusement, they will be forced to think of ways that bring them joy. It could be painting, doodling, or even staring at the stars. It can open a door of possibilities.
It is also an opportunity to build their confidence. When kids try new things of their own volition, they learn to take risks and test their limits; and when they manage to choose and complete the activities successfully, it gives a huge boost to their self-esteem.
Boredom opens the doors for self-discovery
Can you imagine sitting idle with your thoughts for 15 minutes without the distraction of electronics, books, or even a companion? When life gets too busy, we forget to be still and let our minds wander. We even try to overschedule our day, so we don’t have to deal with ‘free time’.
The same happens to kids — when you structure their time too much, they won’t know what to do when they are free. Letting them sit idle with their thoughts helps them discover a lot about themselves. They will find clarity about their abilities and learn more about their desires. It is also a great boost for their mental health in the long term when they start looking at free time as a time to reflect and not something to dread.
Teaching Kids To Make The Best Of Boredom
Teaching kids to be responsible for their own amusement can seem overwhelming at first, especially if they are used to having their day planned out for them by someone else. You may need to step in as their ‘imagination coach’. Slowly, as they learn how to entertain themselves without the distraction of electronics or structured activities, it will get easier.
Allow your children the opportunity to get bored. Make time for unstructured play. Don’t pack their day into a schedule. Let them wander and wonder about whatever comes to their mind.
So next time when your child says “I’m bored”, the best thing you can do for them is do nothing.