Don’t Make Every Moment Magical:: Let Your Kids Be Bored

Spring Break is almost here, and unless you are taking off on a fabulous vacation, it’s likely your kids are going to be bored for some of the next week. And that is okay, and even beneficial. 

Mooooommmmm! I’m sooooo bored!!!

Uh-oh. It’s the battle cry of all children everywhere and while you may just want to jump right in and come up with some uh-maz-ing, life-long memory-making activity for your kiddo when they yield the battle cry, I’m going to ask you to just. not. do. it. Because when a child is bored, great things can happen.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s SO important for children to experience sports, the outdoors, theater and the like. But it’s also just as important for them to experience boredom.

When we’re bored, our minds wander. And when they wander, the imagination soars. Wandering minds can come up with the greatest activities – from turning your family room floor into lava to wandering into the jungle of your back yard to creating a Picasso masterpiece.

In her article, “Want to be a Great Parent? Let your children be bored”, Teresa Belton details a study done in Canada::

“….a large scale study carried out in Canada in the 1980s as television was gradually being extended across the country, compared children in three communities – one which had four TV channels, one with one channel and one with none. The researchers studied these communities on two occasions, just before one of the towns obtained television for the first time, and again two years later. The children in the no-TV town scored significantly higher than the others on divergent thinking skills, a measure of imaginativeness.”

Boredom Leads To Bonding

Boredom can also lead to cooperative play with siblings, neighbors, and friends. This type of “free-scripted” playing is what leads us to create life-long bonds with others. Any time I ask someone in their 30s or older how they spent their school breaks, inevitably, I get stories about how they and their compadres had some amazing adventure as they played together, outside. And when telling these stories, the storytellers’ eyes always light up with excitement and a huge smile spreads across their faces. My hope is that today’s children get to experience that, too. In order to do that though, they need to come up with things to do with their friends and siblings without parental involvement.

Boredom Helps Children Learn to Problem Solve

Boredom can also give children great problem-solving skills. I mean, they have to figure out on their own a way to keep themselves entertained, right? And, when boredom leads to some not-so-smart activities, kids then have to figure out how to fix whatever it is they’ve done wrong.

How to Help Children be Bored

Now, before you just allow your children to their own devices when they are bored, we do need to be sure that whatever activity they do won’t hurt anything or anyone, unlike my husband. As I wrote this article and asked him what he did when he was bored as a kid, he detailed how he’d take apart lamps and turn them into nunchucks.  {Yeah – I pretty much stared at him, open-mouthed too. I mean that’s a 10 for creativity, but seriously – a lamp?!?}

To make sure your child doesn’t turn your lamps into nunchucks or anything else, be sure to have some conversations beforehand on what they can and can’t do when coming up with their own activities. 

Let them jump in the puddles that the spring rains bring.

Let them get messy. And then, of course, have to clean up – because, another life lesson.

Make sure that they conquer their boredom with something low-tech. While your children may want their electronics, they don’t actually need their electronics.

Give them a notebook, journal, even a stack of paper so they can write and color when bored. You can even come up with a bunch of topics written on little slips of paper or Post-It Notes, and have them randomly select one to write or color about.

Provide them with a stash of craft supplies to go to when they find themselves with “nothing to do”. {This was my kids’ absolute favorite, and I think they may have told me they were “bored” just to get to it and make stuff, some of which I have saved in their memory books}. 

You can even share your own stories of what you do when you are bored {as long as it’s not turning lamps into nunchucks}.

How do you handle boredom with your kids? 

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