If you're tired of hearing your kids spout “I’m bored,” don't worry! Here are 4 great reasons boredom can benefit your child (and you).
In the 25 years I’ve been raising my family of eight kids, I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve heard all of them spout off that they were bored! Imagine being bored among all the chaos a family our size has—I found it completely impossible to believe! Yet—in my kid’s minds boredom was practically the same staple as their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
As a very young mother, I vowed no kid of mine was going to caw like a crow that he/she was bored with nothing to do. If it happened once, I’d squash boredom like an annoying little bug and instill a life of wonder and excitement into each of them so I’d never hear the words “There’s nothing to do around here, I’m so bored” again!
A girl can dream. Despite my most enthusiastic efforts to create endless play scenarios with glitter, homemade playdough, finger paints, and giant fort castles, or decorating cupcakes and even directing homemade plays, those two stinking words “I’m bored” continued to follow me wherever I went.
And so I finally began to realize a few things. Not only was I not going to be able to change my kids' outlook and the rating on their boredom meter, I was also not going to spend my entire parenting life being their cruise director. And perhaps most importantly—it’s perfectly fine to be bored!
In The Importance Of Letting Your Kids Be Bored, Teresa Belton, visiting fellow at the School of Education & Lifelong Learning at the University Of East Anglia and boredom expert, states that no work and no play doesn’t make Jack a dull boy—it makes his brain work better. She cites research that shows unstructured down time helps kids become creative, independent thinkers. “Boredom needn’t be feared, and it can be seen as an opportunity,” says Belton.
If you're tired of hearing your kids spout “I’m bored,” don't worry—here are four great reasons boredom can benefit your child—and you!
4 Reasons Boredom Can Benefit Your Child
- Boredom Encourages Creativity
- Boredom Helps Quiet Your Brain
- Boredom Helps Teach Kids to Foster Their Interests
- Boredom Lets Parents Off the Hook
Here is a closer look at each.
1. Boredom Encourages Creativity
One of the best things boredom brings to the table is that it allows our brains and imagination to go wild and come up with super creative ways to stay entertained. My favorite memory of this is when my four oldest children created a complete “outer space” afternoon because I pulled back and didn’t give them any guidance at all on how to save their sorry souls from a few moments of structured play. It was a rainy afternoon and I had five very young children. I had a newborn baby who was always hungry. I wasn’t able to concoct my usual three-ring circus for my kids so I left them to figure it out for themselves while I tended to my newborn.
Imagine my surprise when I returned from bathing and feeding baby number five, only to find my other four kids up in the attic pretending they were in outer space! This went on for over two hours, and I didn’t’ have to help them create or direct any of this celestial playtime! It was one of those ‘aha’ parenting moments for me. Boredom can be a child’s best friend. Without it, this space playtime may have never happened.
Next time your child screeches that he/she is bored, go with it! Let him/her figure it out for themselves. Maybe an outer space excursion won’t take place the first time, but left to their own devices, they will begin to rely on their own creative brain power to entertain and delight.
2. Boredom Helps Quiet Your Brain
The most peaceful memories I can recall from when my eight kids were very young is when I would take them on a nap ride. Back then I was a stay-at-home mom so each and every day revolved around caring for my family. Like clockwork, I would load them in my minivan after lunch each day and take them for a ride that would last about an hour. I would grab a cup of hot tea at my favorite coffee shop and take a scenic ride around our beautiful town while my young kids napped.