The long winter holidays are coming very soon. Many parents dread hearing their children utter the words “I’m bored” during school holidays as it signifies that you’ll have to find something else to entertain them. Most parents would say that giving your child lots of fun things to occupy them is a crucial part of looking after them.
We see boredom as something negative; something to be avoided at all costs. But in reality, boredom is an essential part of growing up, and something your children need to experience in order to improve their creativity.
Do not over-stimulate children
It’s true that offering kids fun activities and entertainment are good things, but over-stimulation can be harmful to their development. With the ever increasing availability of TV, Internet, video games and other distractions there’s always plenty to occupy your children’s minds for them. This can be a problem since as long as a child has their entertainment handed to them they will never figure out what actually interests them.
Boredom represents an opportunity for creativity and can lead to discoveries. It’s when a child is bored that they stop to think about who they really are, and what they what to do, as opposed to just going along with whatever you or the TV suggest for them to do.
Psychologists like Dr Sandi Mann, from the University of Central Lancashire and Dr Wijnand van Tilburg from the University of Southampton have known the importance of boredom for years. Being bored is a chance to stretch your mind like exercising a muscle. For a child, finding themselves without any easy distractions or pastimes might be uncomfortable but it frees their mind to pursue deeper interests and figure out what really makes them tick. Without this chance to reflect it’s easy for children to go through life just flitting from one easy option to the next without ever pausing to develop interests and personality traits of their own.
Let children find use their imagination
So next time your child comes to you and announces “I’m bored”, don’t rush in with suggestions to fill their time. Tell them there’s plenty to do around the house if they look. Encourage them to try something new. Or even do nothing at all. Teach your child that sometimes they need to be the source of their own entertainment. Then sit back for a while and watch what happens. Let your child grow through boredom and discover whole new worlds of possibility.