If you’re wondering if being bored is good for your kids – it is! Boredom can be a huge boost to your child’s life skills – and here’s how.
Why Is It Good To Be Bored?
Boredom is often thought of as the bane of our lives, sucking the breath out of a day or activity. It can be difficult to deal with boredom at any age, but chances are that if anyone is vocalizing it, it is your kids.
You may have heard that ‘bored people are boring people’ – and that’s true. Who wants to hang out with someone who is easily bored or needs you to come up with entertainment ideas? It’s way better if they can find some themselves.
A few short decades ago as a child, you likely had tons of free time. Unlike today where children are constantly busy with sports, extracurricular activities, music lessons, and screen time, you had to come up with your own ideas of how to occupy yourself on school holidays or while your parents were working.
Think about what you used to do to manage your own boredom. Chances are, while hopefully your parents spent a good amount of quality time with you, they also encouraged free play so that they could manage other things. This is something we see less of now.
There are benefits to young children and adolescents being bored sometimes. It may not be something you’ve thought of since you were little, but here’s why.
Being Bored Builds Skills
Being bored – and finding ways to occupy yourself – can build a ton of important skills in children. Just think about the structure of it. First, they figure out that they are bored. Next, they ask you to entertain them. You say no, so they are back to square one. What does one do when one wants to solve a problem? They develop a solution. They have to figure out how to make their situation better, and that builds necessary skills.
Being bored lets a child’s mind wander. While the feeling might be uncomfortable at first (thus the frequent, “I’m bored!”), it can be the best thing for their long-term growth and an important part of the development of coping skills.
Additionally, unstructured time can encourage growth in problem-solving skills, confidence, creativity, and organization. Just like when you are put in a position where you need to solve your own problems daily, it becomes second nature. If you never have to do something, you are more likely not to.
Being Bored Improves Self Image
Once they learn that they can solve the problem the first time, your bored kids will get better at doing it again next time. When you find that you are good at something, you develop pride within yourself and may enjoy practicing your new skill (if even only a tiny bit more).
If your children don’t realize this accomplishment on their own, tell them that you are proud of them for using their own thoughts and own devices to manage their time. Knowing that you are proud of them and that they should be proud of themselves is one of the keys to having a better self-image.
The good news is that when a child can be proud of themselves, it also feeds into other areas. They may slowly have confidence making new friends or speaking up in class, as they’ve started to develop their ability to come up with creative solutions on their own.
As much as we think of these things as independent instances, confidence and a healthy self-image are through-lines that connect it all. And while there is no magic potion for self-confidence, if it can be built up in one area, it will likely continue (slowly) into others.
Being Bored Increases Creativity and Imagination
When dealing with kids’ boredom, particularly the first time around, you may need to give them a few nudges. Encourage them to stand in what they probably see as an empty bedroom and look around. Younger kids likely have lots of toys, books, and art supplies on the shelves that they don’t even recognize because they are gone during school hours and have busy schedules after. And high school kids are used to external stimulation from computers and tv shows.
If you take away the stimulation that they are used to and they have to deal with an entire day of a little boredom, watch what their minds come up with. The important thing is that you don’t make plans for them. Take a different approach and encourage constructive boredom. There will be no lack of things to do, that’s for sure.
This is a great time to support your child, but it doesn’t have to happen at the present moment. Be their audience. Let them perform the play or instrument for you (when you are done doing what you have to or at a set time). Put their creative project up on the fridge or discuss the book they are reading. It is always a good idea to show some interest in hearing about their activities so that they will be more likely to continue them.
Being Bored Provides a Good Teaching Moment
Helping your kids understand why they feel bored and how they can change it is a great learning activity and a great way to bond with them. It allows you to share things about your life and how you solve those moments for yourself. Life is not a big ball of constant entertainment, so you are also helping to teach them about a realistic future. Learning to be alone with yourself and have those quiet moments are important life skills.
Teach your child how to have these moments – and that they are a good thing. You are their role model. Previous generations dealt with tons of unscheduled time, and they can too.
There is nothing wrong with being alone with your thoughts and focusing on an activity. In fact, with all of the chaos in their world (school, homework, friends, music, video games, etc.), learning how to deal with a little bit of boredom could turn into moments where they get to take a deep breath.
Being Bored Can Make Your Children More Likeable
People that aren’t creative or imaginative and can never find satisfaction in what they have are the people who are most often bored with life. Bored people really can be boring people.
It is our job as parents to help our children become well-rounded individuals. By allowing your child to be bored, you are helping them develop the skills of how to deal with a blank page. Children who can learn to find new ways to enjoy random situations often become people who are much more interesting. When someone is interesting and able to “roll with the punches,” they become people that other people want to spend time with. Help your child become that person.
Being Bored Is Good for You as a Parent
This isn’t a child benefit, but it is a benefit! We parents have a lot on our plates. We need to manage so much all the time. When our children can manage something for themselves, it is one less thing that we have to worry about.
Teaching your children ways to occupy themselves and be independent can help you have more time for yourself to do what you have to (or maybe even want to!) do. This doesn’t mean that you don’t spend time together, but if there are a few hours on a weekend where you are at your wit’s end or have to get some stuff done (or take a bath or practice healthy mental health challenges), it is okay to expect your child to manage some time by themselves. This is easier as children age, but even a five-year-old can look through a book or color by themselves for half an hour while you take a breather.
The bottom line is, allow your child to be bored. Every once in awhile, when your family is having a rare relaxing day, let your child try to figure out what to do. While you may have to provide some suggestions for them to get started, being bored can drive some incredibly creative decisions and ideas. See what they come up with – it will serve them well.