Did you know that boredom is the threshold for creativity? Next time you hear your child complain ‘I’m bored’, don’t feel like you need to step in and fill that space as being bored is a really positive thing. It helps them to discover ways to make themselves happy, which will never happen if we’re constantly filling up all of their spare time.
In today’s non-stop world, boredom can be seen as a bad thing. This can lead to us over-scheduling our children’s time, filling their week with extracurricular activities, and not allowing them to just be. Boredom encourages children’s brains to seek out something new and to create. This is when art is made, cakes are baked, forts are constructed, games are invented - and the discovery of what truly inspires them.
Here’s our top tips for creating an environment for our children so that their boredom becomes constructive:
Encourage imaginative play
Break out a fancy dress and hat or other props that can encourage your child’s imagination to soar. Children are imaginative by nature but props might help them get there quicker, resulting in your child creating their own stories or acting them out. You could even ask them to put on a show for you!
Set aside unstructured time for your child
Having ‘free time’ scheduled in your week allows your children the opportunity to practice entertaining themselves and the freedom to engage in activities that they choose. It may be difficult at first if they’re not used to amusing themselves or coming up with ideas by themselves. Start by being their ‘imagination coach’ and leave out open-ended items/toys to pique their interests. Once the imagination spark is ignited, they will find ways to entertain themselves.
Don’t mind the mess
Creativity can be messy! Try not to mind the mess when your child is creating and playing, as it can hinder their imagination. Before they begin, you can set clear context around being responsible about looking after our spaces and our environment. This will help them understand that they’re expected to tidy up after themselves once they’ve finished.
Get out in nature
Take your child out into open spaces where they can run, jump, climb and roll down hills. Being outdoors allows risk-taking and autonomy to be developed. Not to mention, outdoor play also enables children to enjoy the natural environment and learn to actively seek out exercise, fresh air, and other curious activities they normally wouldn’t think of indoors.
Boredom can make children happier
As adults, when we think back on our childhood, we don’t necessarily remember our best days of TV-watching or the days spent playing computer games. Instead, we remember the fond memories of playing with friends or family and even the most simple things, like the connections we made, the fun games invented, the laughter, and being out in nature.
Mounting scientific evidence suggests that children need boredom to function at their highest levels. Their brains will go into ‘default mode’ which then encourages them to awaken their curiosity and spur resourcefulness. The number one-benefit of our children experiencing bouts of boredom is that it also develops their innate ability to be creative. When you allow your child to feel bored and to explore their boredom, you can help your child channel that energy into something constructive.