Boredom As A Beginning
You’ve probably come to dread this proclamation, usually cried in a long, drawn-out whine. You might ignore it, or clap back with a parent joke like, “Hi, bored. I’m Mom/Dad!”
Let’s be honest, though. More often than not, you probably rattle off a list of things they can do, or pop Netflix on. After all, you probably have plenty to do and only wish you could be bored.
What if being bored is good, though? What if we’re depriving our children of the benefits of boredom, and they only have to push through it a bit to see the greatness on the other side?
What if boredom isn’t a burden, but a beginning?
What is boredom?
Boredom, by definition, is a lack of stimulation. So what’s bad about that? After all, overstimulation is known to cause stress and anxiety. However, we live in a society when we expect to be stimulated at all times—it’s become our norm.
Our activity bucket is never empty. When it seems low, we fill it. It’s easy enough with endless apps, binge-watching options, and hand-held electronics wherever we turn. Let’s face it, we don’t like our minds to wander and that’s exactly what happens when the bucket is empty.
Being bored is an uncomfortable feeling during a time where people don’t want and don’t have to be uncomfortable. Our society says it’s not only okay but expected to be constantly occupied, stimulated, and entertained.
Why Kids Don’t Know How To Be Bored Today
Imagine a kid in time out— they’re unhappy, but they find ways to entertain themselves. You can watch the boredom turn into self-entertainment and they’re all of a sudden not so bored anymore. It starts to not feel so much like a punishment after all.
Children are natural boredom busters. It’s when they come up with their most creative ideas, biggest daydreams, and silly games.
Here’s the thing, though. Children aren’t getting that opportunity anymore. We are constantly helping them fill their bucket. If they are in line at the store, they have our phones. On a rainy day, we sit them in front of the TV. A long car ride? Many family cars have screens in them!
Boredom Is An Important Developmental Tool
If we want our children to be creative, independent thinkers, then they need enough quiet to hear themselves once in a while. We aren’t capitalizing on having a lack of things to do. A lack of things to do makes us get creative in our choices, and to try things we haven’t tried before.
- Pushing through the boredom develops patience and self-restraint. The opportunity to daydream sparks creative thought and builds imagination. Imagination is important in school, at the workplace, and out in the world. And, according to the American Psychological Association, boredom allows people to reflect on life and what makes it meaningful.
- Boredom makes us more creative. When we are bored we must find creative ways to fill our “empty” time. It allows for the quiet that sparks imagination. Imagination and play strengthen our brain, while “quick fixes” to boredom, such as screen time, short circuits it.
- Boredom builds busy minds. Have you ever met a bored engineer, entrepreneur, artist, or doctor? These people thrive on curiosity and creativity.
- Boredom allows for time for reflection. Reflection is free time to sit and learn more about yourself. It’s an opportunity to develop internal stimulus and our own worldviews. According to the American Psychological Association, when people are bored they reflect on life and are inspired to live more meaningfully.
- Boredom increases self-discovery and makes our kids more interesting individuals. Children, when given the opportunity, will make their own decisions and find ways to interest themselves. Boredom is the perfect time for kids to learn what they’re interested in doing, learning, and developing.
- Boredom makes our kids less entitled. If we don’t solve boredom for them, children innately use that time to figure it out for themselves. If we fill their bucket for them, they learn that they never have to do so on their own.