Boredom is Good

Author: Lara Jennings   Date Posted: 18 January 2017 

How many times have you heard those words from a child?

They may or may not be accompanied by some dramatic flouncing of the arms and head as they really drive their point home:

“I’m bored!”


And who can really blame them?  They are raised in a world where a whole world of entertainment is at their fingertips and only a finger-swipe away.  Those feelings of boredom, where there is no immediate knowledge of their next activity, are almost entirely foreign and unknown.  


Even when our children are engaged in an educational environment, there is always some activity happening that they are involved in, so when the holidays strike and suddenly children are left to their own devices for entertainment this whole new world of endless possibility becomes rather unsettling.  Is it any wonder that we as parents spend a lot of time scheduling their holidays? Sports clinics, playdates, holiday programs, day trips…  how much time do your children have to just “be”?  To think about whatever; to watch the clouds; to stare out of the window at nothing in particular?


(And as an aside, the advertising material that is delivered to your home just as holidays are starting advertising toy sales just reinforces the idea that our children need constant new things for engagement - but that’s a whole different blog post!)


Our first reaction may be to offer some inspiration to engage their interest: why don’t you draw a picture for Nanna?  Go and read your book.  Why don’t you build a scale model of the Millennium Falcon from matchsticks?  But quite frankly, we’d be wasting our breath.  Firstly, because our children are really not saying they are bored so that we solve their problem for them.  And secondly, because from boredom springs the greatest of creativity and inspiration.


Yes, really.


The quiet, bored mind is capable of some of the most incredible creative thought.


Boredom is the quiet before the storm, if you will.  It is the place where the mind relaxes and looks for alternative possibilities that have not previously been explored and where new ideas take form.  

Think about what happens when you plant a seed in the ground: there is the time where there appears to be nothing happening with that little patch of ground, however after some time, the new growth bursts forth and grows into a mature plant.  It is mind-blowing to think that an incredibly intricate flower or a towering tree has started from such small and seemingly insignificant beginnings.  Such is the germinations of creative ideas in humans.  There must be quiet.  Creativity cannot flourish to its potential when the mind is constantly engaged with input and we do our children a disservice when we constantly provide engagement to them.


So perhaps rather than focussing on how to keep your child entertained throughout the holiday period, we as parents should change our thinking to how we can provide opportunities for our children to become more creatively engaged in their world.


How could they do something to make someone else smile, without expecting anything in return?


What can they find the backyard?


Every child needs an art box: a treasure trove of paper, glue, pom poms, pipe cleaners, paper doilies and whatever else. Have some large drawing paper and their favourite drawing media available, but allow them to pull it out at their leisure. That way whatever gets created comes from their imagination.


And above all, when they say “I’m bored!” - don’t bite that hook.  A simple, off-hand “I’m sure you’ll find something to do” should be non-committal enough to give them some quiet, mind-altering time to germinate an idea for something incredible!

(Image Credit: I'm Bored a book by Michael Ian Black, Debbie Ridpath Ohi - I need this book!)

Comments (1)

It's a relief to fin

24 February 2017
It's a relief to find soenome who can explain things so well

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