I get asked all the time about kids being bored. How to combat boredom, how to avoid kids getting bored when they have limited internet or screen time. Kids who don’t have game consoles being bored, kids being bored in the school holidays, how to beat boredom in the holidays…. “how to I stop kids getting bored?” Or “my kids are bored at home?” I always get these sorts of questions. Now while I don’t mind answering them, let me be clear here, I don’t think boredom is bad. I don’t think your kids being bored is a bad thing. Being bored can be great!
I feel like even as adults we have become conditioned to think that being bored is a bad thing, and we then think our kids being bored is a bad thing.
In a study in 2014, one-quarter of participants said they would rather give themselves a painful shock than be in a room with no external stimulus (that being music, books, phones) for 15 minutes. 15 minutes.
This shows how much people want to escape the feeling of boredom!
Boredom - What if we welcomed it? Even encouraged it? Shock, gasp, horror, what?!
In a world filled with flashy new sparkly technology every 5 minutes, instant gratification, a myriad of entertainment available at our fingertips and in an instant, is it becoming harder to sit in quiet and let our minds daydream and wander? And if it is for adults, what about kids?
I think being bored can be a good thing. I think our kids being bored can be great. Productive even!
With your kids, don’t feel like you need to step in and “stop the boredom” or “beat the boredom” for them, being bored helps them develop attention spans, self regulation, and promotes creativity. It also encourages problem solving, as they need to “solve the boredom” themselves.
Whilst it isn’t our job as parents to prevent their boredom, it is our responsibility to encourage them to seek “boredom busting” activities, and provide the space to do so. An example of this might be an invitation to play type set up, where you place some paper and glue and pens on the table, or you get out some playdough, or you take some chalk out to the backyard, or you cook/bake with your kids. Maybe you get out a tent or some blankets and pillows for a fort and leave them with this, or you set up some water play (safely). The ideas are endless, and in my opinion, with kids and teens alike, boredom can foster creativity, new passions, and also provide a much needed break from screens and gaming. Win, win.
Article by Brad Marshall
Posted April 13, 2021
Published by The Unplugged Psychologist