Why Is Occasional Boredom Good for Kids?

Experiencing prolonged boredom can be detrimental to one’s health, but engaging in a stream of frenzied activities can be equally damaging. In life, as in everything else, moderation is key. A dose of boredom now and then won’t hurt. It can actually be good for kids.

Most parents are likely to shield their kids from the anxiety and distress caused by boredom. Thus, we tend to bombard them with structured activities to keep boredom at bay. We do so to keep them as happy as a lark and as content as a clam.

boredom makes kids smarter

We may consider this smart parenting, only to realize that we’re doing more harm than good by not allowing our kids to go through moments of boredom. 

We can’t blame ourselves for doing so. We can’t stand seeing our kids feeling sad and lethargic. But this has got to change because a healthy dose of boredom can be the missing link that can help spark their creative genius.

Important: Because of children’s individual needs, it is important that the reader consults his or her child’s personal physician for guidance on the appropriateness of the information contained in this article.

Please do not allow kids to handle boredom independently under the following conditions/circumstances.

  • Your child is too young to regulate his / her emotions
  • Your child has medical conditions
  • Your child wants to fill their “emotional tank” by cuddling or connecting with you through play, meaningful interaction, etc.

Boredom Sparks Creativity

child watering plants
Photo credit: Unsplash

According to a study, our brains do not remain idle when we are not actively engaged. In fact, rather than being dull, the mind shifts its neural activity to the area of the brain that influences imagination and creativity.

Haven’t you noticed that we are at our most creative when we allow our minds to rest?

The mind loves to wander and constantly looks for ways to keep itself productive. Thus, when we are idle, our brain’s creative side gets activated. And that’s how boredom helps boost our kids’ creative thinking skills, enabling them to develop brilliant ideas.

The Bronte Family

Remember the Bronte sisters? They’re the world-renowned and most revered novelists to have hailed from Britain in the 19th century.

They’re deemed creative geniuses for having produced some of British history’s most exquisitely written novels. You can attribute their intelligence and creativity partly to boredom. 

The absence of modern distractions and diversions that are prevalent in modern life had forced them to craft their own whimsical, imaginative stories when they were kids. They constantly read books, did many self-directed play activities, and wrote their make-believe stories with the help of their vivid and rich imaginations.

Hence, if you want to raise a smart child, just let him have a bit of boredom occasionally and witness his creativity soar before your eyes. Watch him get hold of those books he used to despise with a passion. See him create things with his hands without you prodding him to do so.

The key Is to Get Our Kids to Look at Boredom With a Positive Attitude

We need to help our kids develop a positive attitude towards boredom. Otherwise, it could lead to delinquent and risky behaviors.

How to Deal With a Bored Child?

How to deal with a bored child? We may need to guide them at the beginning on where to focus their energy when boredom strikes–but as they become more adept at handling boredom by themselves, we can let them take the reins.

We must allow them to take the lead, says Sandi Mann, a senior psychology lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire in the U.K. Mann is the author of The Upside of Downtime: Why Boredom Is Good.

Let them find creative ways to alleviate boredom by themselves.

Keep some colorful books or toys that encourage creative play within reach, like blocks, balls, puppets, bricks, puzzles, dolls, and arts and crafts kits. These toys and crafts kits can motivate them to tap on their creative side, keeping their brains sharp and engaged.

But Mann suggested that we should also encourage kids to pick an activity that does not require too much concentration — such as watching butterflies, counting leaves and petals in the yard, collecting stones, walking a familiar route, or looking into the blue sky while lying down— letting their thoughts wander without music or stimulation to guide the mind.

Is It Doable?

It may be difficult initially, but sooner or later, they will learn to embrace boredom as part of life. Because it’s when our children stand in its shadows that they can learn how to make peace with it and cope with uncomfortable and difficult emotions. 

Boredom also gives our children the space they need to listen to the stirrings of their hearts and discover their true passions, which often start to blossom during childhood.

As more and more children are engaged in structured activities, we must allow them to have some idle moments in their day, as it leads them to self-discovery and a lifelong exploration of the inner self.

It is then critical to give them a respite from the beguiling allure of screen entertainment, as modern gadgets produce “dopamine” rewards in their brains that keep them glued to the screen for hours on end.

Using these electronic gadgets is so intoxicating that our kids find other experiences pale in comparison.

Kids Become Whiny When They Want To Connect With Their Parents.

Not succumbing to our kids’ unreasonable demands when they complain of boredom is necessary. But let us also bear in mind that our kids may sometimes feel bored or become whiny because they want their love tank to be filled up by mom and dad. Kids need to be reassured from time to time that they are loved. We may then have to spend more quality time with our children by cuddling them until they feel wholly loved and cared for.  

Give it time, and before we know it, our kids will have come up with some ingenious ideas or activities to keep themselves occupied. Now and then, let nature take its own course, allowing them to experience moments of boredom until they find something to do on their own.

Boredom Helps Your Child Become Emotionally Resilient

how to deal with a bored child
Photo credit: Unsplash

Boredom prods your children to learn how to regulate their own emotions when they feel anxious and frustrated [Skip this if your child is too young as they’re still unable to control certain impulses or moods]

It will help them learn how to adapt to changes or uncomfortable emotions, which can help reduce behavioral problems in the long run.

Rather than resorting to spiteful and rude behaviors when they fail to get what they want, they will learn to be more open in exploring other alternatives to allay their boredom.

Boredom Makes Your Child Less Selfish

If you always buckle to their unreasonable demands, they will get used to having their requests granted and will grow up having this notion that the world must revolve around them–a negative attitude they will carry into adulthood.

Their behavior will become more aggressive and will compel
others to comply with their demands.

If they realize that you won’t give in to their irrational requests [skip this if your child wants to cuddle or connect with you or has a medical condition], they will be motivated to find ways to handle boredom on their own.

Thus, you will have more time to spend with your spouse. And having enough time to spend with your better half will keep your relationship on solid ground—which will translate to less stress and happy home life for the kids as well.

Why Boredom Is Good for Your Child

Allowing our kids to go through moments of boredom now and then will enable them to discover more about themselves, find their own voice in a sea of distractions, spark their creativity, and encourage a sense of independence.

Note: In letting them do things independently, our kids should always be under our watchful gaze if they’re still too young to be left unattended.