The Benefits of Boredom for Children
We live in a world where we are constantly on the go. Especially within the United States, we pride ourselves on how much we can achieve and get done in a single day. Not only is this approach to life unhealthy for adults, it’s also unhealthy for kids. As odd as it may sound, boredom is important for kids and their development!
Importance of boredom for children
Boredom can be scary as a parent. You may feel like you're not doing enough or that you need to provide more and more for your child in their environment.
Let’s stop you right there. No matter what, your child will experience boredom, and buying them new toys to fight this does more harm than good!
Boredom is good.
Yes, you heard us correctly.
Boredom is great actually! Boredom allows your child to concentrate and creatively use what is available in their immediate environment.
With modern technology and easy access to toys, you may hear older generations talk about how “hard” they had it back in the day in comparison to you and your children. But, in all honesty, the environment they grew up in was easier for them to work on the exact skills that come from boredom!
In boredom, your child depends on themselves to create play. They must problem solve using what is in front of them with the problem being boredom and the end goal being fun and/or enjoyment.
Reasons why boredom is good
In boredom, you might think your child is gaining very little. Sometimes, you look at your bored child and it may appear that your child is simply sitting there, staring into space. However, don’t let the “nothingness” of boredom deceive you! Your child is actually working an assortment of skills!
Your child works on
Creativity: When your child is bored, they must use their creativity to come up with a solution! Suddenly, the floor is lava and the couch cushions are safe land. The rustling of the wind is actually the flapping of dragon wings coming toward them.
Boredom not only strengthens creativity, but it also sheds light on the interests of your child. If your child wants to find buried treasure, you may assume that they are really into pirates at the moment. If they want to fix an injury on a stuffed animal, you may want to create activities in the future that play into being a doctor!
You will learn more about your child and their interests based on the storylines, activities, and characters that they choose to create! Check out our guide to preschool creative play to learn more!
Independent play: In life, your child won’t always have you, a sibling, or a friend to keep them busy and entertained. Learn more about how to encourage independent play and why it is important
Self awareness: In boredom, your child becomes aware of their sense of self, where they are, and how they are feeling.
The activities they find themselves wanting to do, helps them discover more about themselves.
When your child finds themselves with nothing to do, they have time to reflect on who they are, what they are wanting, and how they are feeling!
Problem solving: In life, you won’t always have answers or solutions given to you. By allowing your child to be bored, they are forced to think critically and utilize their surroundings to solve their current problem of boredom! Doing problem solving activities with your kiddo can help encourage the development of this important skill.
Boredom is good for the brain
Now, you may be thinking, “How could boredom be good for my child’s brain?” Your brain is always working, even when you don’t realize it.
When you walk, your brain is working. When you sit and play on your phone, your brain is working. When you make breakfast, your brain is working. No matter how simple the activity, your brain is always processing information!
Knowing how hard the brain works, you can imagine it needs a rest every once in a while! Your brain is so important and giving it a break from always working is just as important! When you sleep, your body is able to take care of your brain, preparing it for the next day. Similarly, when your child is bored, the brain is able to take some much needed rest from all the work it’s doing as your child grows!
When your child is bored, their brain is able to gather up the energy for future tasks as well as motivation to work on important skills!
How to help children with boredom
As hard as it can be, our advice to you on helping your children with boredom is to simply let them be. They may get frustrated, which you can use as an opportunity to talk about emotion and how they're feeling, but you’re truly helping them out by forcing them to find play in their familiar surroundings!
It can be very difficult to be in the same room as your bored child. They may start getting angry, they may ask you a bunch of questions, or they may simply sit there with you feeling as though you need to get up and help them.
When this happens, you may need to exit your child’s immediate environment. As long as your child is old enough to be left alone and is in a safe environment, removing yourself from their sight can be beneficial for both you and your child.
By removing yourself, you take away the comfort you provide, forcing your child to really work on their critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving. Knowing mom, dad, or an important figure isn’t around to provide comfort or entertainment, your child is forced to rely on themselves and only themselves.
Leaving the room your child is in may also provide some relief for you, the parent! A bored child isn’t always the easiest child to be around. Also, it can be hard to be productive with your own tasks when your focus is on helping your child come up with new ideas for play! Consider this “tactic” beneficial for both you and your child!
But if you’re not able to leave your child alone, consider setting boundaries that provide you and your child with your own separate spaces. Give them a prompt that will occupy them for some time. For example, you could say, “You can come talk to me once you’ve finished (insert name of activity)!”. Consider asking them to create a story, come up with a new use for their favorite toy, or color something they’ve never drawn before.
By providing your child with an open ended prompt, they still work on developing the skills mentioned prior but with a bit of guidance!
Let your child get bored!
Boredom is good! Letting your child play on their own is good! You do not need to entertain your child all day everyday!
Some of your child’s favorite memories will come from these moments of boredom. Characters will be created, new inventions will take form, and you will be setting your child up for future success!
All in All
Boredom tends to be looked down upon. In society you’re told that if you’re bored you’re not doing enough, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth! Boredom is good. Let’s repeat that- boredom is good! Your child will benefit and work on a variety of skills! You do not need to entertain your child all day every day! So, the next time your child is complaining about having nothing to do, know that you’re doing something right.