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After I wrote about our Bored Jar and I shared our list of activity ideas, I’ve got several emails telling me that it’s great that I manage to prevent my child from ever getting bored. And this is not the case! I am not taking the boredom out of my son’s life and I am not even intending to do this! Boredom is good for kids. And it’s good for parents too! 🙂
How children can benefit from boredom
It may seem strange to think about boredom as a positive thing. We are used to thinking that it’s our job as parents to take care of not letting our kids get bored. But the truth is that it’s not our job to constantly entertain our children.
Psychologists and child development experts have demonstrated throughout several studies that boredom is good for kids. They showed that our impulse of constantly trying to entertain our kids is sometimes caused by guilt. We feel guilty that we have busy lives and we try to “compensate” this by scheduling a lot of activities for our children. And we often forget about the great benefits of unstructured play!
Here are the main reasons why boredom is good for kids:
1. Boredom allows children to discover what their true interests are.
When we engage kids in different activities WE are the ones deciding what they should do. And we are often influenced by what we like or consider interesting. If parents are interested in art they will be more likely to choose art activities for their kids. If they think that math is important, they will focus more on this. And so on. But what parents like is not necessarily what the child likes.
And boredom allows the child to discover what he likes without an external influence. When kids get bored and need to choose what to do, they will certainly pay attention to their inner voice. And that is the best source for discovering their unique voice and interests.
2. Boredom is essential for developing creativity.
Creativity cannot be taught. It’s something that kids need to discover by their own. And the best way to develop creativity is to let kids get bored.
If you ever watched kids playing freely you certainly noticed how creative they are! They can invent toys from almost every item around them. They can use the same toy in dozens of different ways. In ways that an adult would have never imagined. And all this creativity can only be encouraged if we let go of our tendency to control everything about our kids’ activities.
3. Boredom can boost child’s independence and self-confidence.
If kids get bored and we don’t immediately give them a solution, they will come up with their own ideas. This will allow them to gain confidence in their ability to do things on their own. Next time maybe they will find a solution without asking for our help. And in time they will become more independent.
This also gives them more self-confidence. They learn that they don’t need to constantly depend on someone. They feel more in control of their life. And this is a wonderful feeling!
How allowing kids to get bored makes parents’ life easier
The best part about boredom is that it not only benefits the child. It benefits the parents too!
Keeping kids entertained all the time can easily become overwhelming. And an exhausted mom is certainly not a happy mom! When kids know how to handle boredom, they become more independent and focused on their own activities.
For me, not “fighting” my child’s boredom all the time has great benefits. First of all, it allows me to have daily breaks in my schedule. And those are so important! They allow me to “recharge my batteries” and be a more patient mom. Or they make it possible for me to work from home even when I’m alone with him.
Also, it’s easier for me to take him everywhere with me. My son is part of my whole schedule and it’s really useful to know that I don’t need to constantly provide him with something to do. Moreover, it helped us to be able to travel a lot with our child. He is used to finding his own play ideas, so he doesn’t complain about long car rides or time spent in hotel rooms with only a few toys.
If boredom is good, why do we still have a Bored Jar?
I think that it’s important to make a clear distinction between allowing a child to get bored and neglecting him. Encouraging independent play doesn’t mean that we ignore the child’s requests. Not at all!
As I always share here, on my blog, I am constantly looking for new activities ideas for us to try! I want to be involved in my child’s life. I want to do activities with him and I enjoy this!
We have daily schedules that combine our activities together with free play time for him! If I see that he gets bored during his free play time I usually don’t intervene. I just watch him. Sometimes he just stays quietly on the carpet. Or he is arranging the same cars over and over again. I never jump in with play ideas at this point. I just wait to see what he does next.
In some cases, after a while, he finds a new activity that interests him. And there is no need for me to intervene. In other cases, he comes to me and asks for my attention. And then I give him my full attention! We hug, cuddle, and talk. At times, he only needs to feel connected with me and he returns to play after a short while. Other times, I feel that he needs more than this.
And this is when the Bored Jar and all the activity ideas that I gather become very helpful!
Depending on the situation, I either propose some activities he could do, or I go play with him. In my opinion, kids need to know that they are in control of their own free time. And that figuring out what to do is their job. But they also need to know that they will always have our love and attention and that we can sometimes help them find new ideas.
Boredom is good for kids! It allows them to become more creative and resourceful. As parents, I think that we should always remember this before rushing into trying to entertain them all the time.
What do you think about this? How do you handle your kids’ boredom? I would be really curious to find out your opinions.
photo credit: Oksana Kuzmina / Shutterstock.com