Benefits of Letting Kids Be Bored in the Holidays
With families practicing social distancing for an indefinite period, the cries of ‘I’m bored’ will be even louder these holidays when kids don’t have schoolwork to occupy them. Those who are used to a whirl of plays dates and after-school activities will struggle with boredom the most.
Many parents are no doubt despairing at how to fill so many empty hours, especially if they are trying to work from home. The good news is that you don’t need to tear out your hair trying to think of ways to entertain your child every minute of the day because numerous studies have found that boredom is actually good for kids.
Here are some of the benefits of allowing kids to feel bored.
Kids today lead much more structured lives than past generations, leaving little time for daydreaming and just ‘being.’ To entertain themselves, children are forced to draw on their imagination by doing things like building a cubby house, role-playing with dolls or making something from whatever materials are on hand.
Even the simple act of observing insects in the backyard can be very educational and enriching. Instead of rushing to fill the free time, let your child find their own amusements, allowing them to tap into their creativity.
Those who need to be constantly stimulated rely on other people for their sense of happiness and well-being. As a result, they lack self-reliance because they’ve never had to draw on their inner resources. Many well-meaning parents who rush to fulfill their child’s every need are raising children who may find it difficult to be alone and will struggle more when faced with illness or other adverse situations.
When kids are comfortable with their own company and know how to occupy themselves, they are more ready to face life’s challenges head-on.
Dr Vanessa Lapointe believes ‘children need to sit in their own boredom for the world to become quiet enough that they can hear themselves.’ With boredom comes self-awareness because children have had the time to reflect on their own thoughts and learn about themselves.
This gives them an opportunity to find out what they’re interested in and pursue pastimes which are meaningful to them. Kids with self-awareness are also better equipped to deal with anxiety and worry because they have learnt self-soothing techniques.
With self-reliance and self-awareness comes confidence because kids with these qualities know they can handle situations on their own. They will be more likely to step out of their comfort zone, go places where they might not know many people and try new things because they have a solid foundation and sense of self.
When your life is a whirl of activities, with everything scheduled for you, it’s easy to take things for granted. Kids who are given the opportunity to experience boredom are more likely to take joy in the small stuff. They recognise the world doesn’t revolve around them and appreciate the positive things they have.
While boredom is important for kids to experience, this doesn’t mean you have to ditch all the enriching activities. It’s a matter of creating pockets of unstructured time where your child is free to watch the clouds roll by and just be in the moment.
The current crisis has shown us the importance of all these qualities that boredom helps kids develop.