A bored mind moves into a “daydreaming” stateSandi Mann, psychologist at the University of Central Lancashire
“I’m bored!” These are two words many parents dread hearing. Parents often want to avoid hearing this so they expend time and energy finding ways to alleviate their child’s boredom. They do this by over-scheduling numerous activities or drowning them with projects to do at home because it provokes a feeling that they have failed to enlighten or enrich their child’s mind.
What’s important to know is that constructive boredom in children is essential to their mental and emotional development. It’s also important to remember that there’s a big difference between a negatively numbed brain and a constructively bored mind. Constructive boredom is the type of boredom that leads to reading a book, painting a picture, creating a game, or playing outside with the neighbors. This type of constructive boredom does need a little guidance from parents, but not much. In this blog, we will talk about the benefits of constructive boredom and how parents can help nurture that.
Boredom fosters creativity
Our minds like to wander and when there’s nothing to do, they’re even more active. This often leads to a state of daydreaming, and that daydreaming sparks creative thoughts. When our children have nothing to do, they exercise their imagination which may be one of the most important skills they can develop. The notion that all children should be constantly active or engaged in activities could ultimately hamper the development of their imagination. Researchers all agree that the number one benefit of children experiencing periods of boredom is that it develops their innate ability to be creative.
Boredom helps develop a sense of identity and self-efficiency
“Your role as a parent is to prepare children to take their place in society. Being an adult means occupying yourself and filling up your leisure time in a way that will make you happy. If parents spend all their time filling up their child’s spare time, then the child’s never going to learn to do this for themselves.”Lyn Fry, child psychologist
Over-scheduling may inhibit and ultimately keep your children from discovering what really interests them. When children have the time and opportunity to find ways to occupy themselves, it gives their self-esteem a boost as well. This is the time they can try new things, take risks, go outside their comfort zone, which will in the end build their sense of self-identity and self-efficiency.
Here are a few things parents can do to nurture constructive boredom.
Create a list of things to do
Brainstorm with your child all of the things they enjoy. These can be anything such as reading a book, writing a story, baking a cake, or putting on a play. Let your child be creative. Avoid activities such as playing video games or watching a movie, and, remember, these activities are for the child to do. There should be little to no parent guidance. The next time your child complains of boredom, have your child pick an activity to do from the list.
Plan unstructured time
Unstructured time allows children to find ways to use their imagination to be creative. When things aren’t prescribed or handed to them, children will have the opportunity to fill their time building forts, designing clothes, writing songs, or observing bugs. This time allows children to explore their own passions.
Have designated play areas designed specifically for kids
Create a space with your child that is designated for just him/her. This space will become a place for creativity and inspiration. Provide open ended toys, markers, paper, fabric, wood, boxes, and anything else that may spark imagination. Don’t mind the mess. Everything can be cleared at the end or put away.
The next time you hear your child say, “I’m bored,” hopefully you’ll remember these tools to help nurture your child to be constructively bored!
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