It’s summertime, and I would bet most parents have heard that line a time or two…or one hundred…a few times a day. I have to admit, when my little one says this, it sometimes gets under my skin. I pity myself and wish I could be bored for just a little bit! Well, maybe not bored but a little less busy. Honestly, I don’t like to be bored either. And so other times I feel guilty like I am not doing enough as a mom to keep her entertained.
Lately, I’ve had a new outlook on boredom. After talking with a friend, she said something I’ve always felt, but hearing her say it (and that she even read some articles on the subject), shined a different light on the subject. It is OK for kids to be bored! It’s even good for kids to be bored.
How can something uncomfortable and annoying be good?
Boredom enhances creativity and imagination.
One of my favorite parts of motherhood is watching and listening to my little one play. I absolutely love to see her creativity. When we are out at a restaurant and as soon as we sit down so many times the first things my daughter says is, “I’m bored.” I’ll look over at the next table and see a kid playing games on a tablet as the parents looked relaxed and are talking. I wish I was more organized and thought ahead to bring entertainment. But by the time, we’ve placed our orders, not always but many times, my child is already using her imagination and her fork and spoon are transformed into people on an adventure in the forest. We do use electronics on occasion, but it is also beneficial to allow your kids to be bored. You will be amazed at what they come up with and pleasantly entertained when your own dinner conversation finds a lull.
Boredom helps kids learn how to wait.
Waiting is part of life. Forcing your kids to be bored helps them tolerate boredom and learn to wait. Singing songs, playing with his or her shoes or feet when driving in the car make the waiting more bearable. Kids that are able to entertain themselves are happier. They whine and complain less and learn how to fill the time when it’s time to wait. I’ll always choose the broken record version of “Farmer and the Dell” over whining any day.
Boredom entices kids to try new things and play with others.
When we are at a party or the playground and my little girl is bored because she does not know anyone, I encourage her to introduce herself to a new friend. Boredom forces her to socialize. She yearns to have friends and boredom has many times helped her grow her social skills.
Too many planned activities can cause burn out.
Activities are great. We love them and they excite us. BUT when we have too many activities, we are tired, worn out, and burned out. And when we feel that way, doesn’t that defeat the purpose of these fun activities? Sometimes I feel it is necessary to schedule “boring days” if we get caught up in having plans every single day. Boring days are needed to slow down and give your body and mind time to chill and be less stimulated.
Boredom doesn’t seem so horrible and boring after all, right? I believe it’s important and necessary.
I encourage you to let your kids be bored. But at the same time teach them and help them to cope with boredom. I’m not saying to leave them high and dry to figure it all out on their own. Help them learn how to entertain themselves. Sometimes it just takes giving them a few simple objects when they are struggling to pass the time. Try different things and see what works with your kid since as we all know, they are all different and respond to different things. Help them learn how to introduce themselves to other kids. For shy types like my daughter (and myself) this wasn’t a naturally easy task. If I waited for her boredom to entice her to go up to a kid she did not know, I am almost sure I would still be waiting around with a bored kid. At first, I did the introducing while she hid behind me, which was honestly kind of weird for my introverted self, but I am so glad I did. Now she comes up to me proud she made a new friend and has a much better time playing with other kids…instead of her boring mom all the time. And now I get to be bored occasionally.
Boredom can really be a good thing.