Why it’s okay for children to be bored

By Meerlinga

Cast your mind back to your childhood… Do you remember those times you’d whine at your parents or teachers, “I’m bored!” What was their reaction? When you hear the same words coming from the mouths of your own children, what is your reaction?

Well, the good news is that bored is not such a bad thing for a child to be. In fact, recent research and countless experts have determined it’s actually good for children to be bored! So whatever you do, don’t reach too quickly fill their time with something for them to do. Being bored will unlock something very special inside our children that our fast paced modern world is quietly stifling… connecting with themselves.

Find meaning for themselves

Imagine yourself with time on your hands (I know if you are anything like me that would be a novelty, but our children should have time to ‘just be’, and being bored is the perfect opportunity to embrace this… they just don’t realise it yet!).

When you have time to look around you as a child, eventually you will become introspective. These peaceful times can become a kind of meditation. A chance to look back over things in their little lives and begin gather meaning from their actions.

Encourage variety and creativity

Often a change of location can inspire their creative process. Their room, outside, the activities cupboard (and yes you do need one of these – we will get to that in later blogs) just moving to a new space with different materials gets their brains thinking about what is around them and what they can do with it.

And then… they aren’t bored anymore! This kind of active discovery begins to craft their motivation. Again, do you like being told what to do all the time? Imagine if you didn’t know how to organise your own time or things to do! Being bored allows kids to learn these essential skills. During our Early Learning Programs, we encourage our students to play with purpose. As educators, we’ll present the suggestion of an area (ie outside) and then let them decide for themselves what to do (while supervised). Quickly you see children rushing to the diggers in the sandpit, creating the next rural town. Others will be playing ‘families’ in the cubby house, while an active game of chasey quickly takes hold of the rest!

Children need to discover how to be independent

We’ve all seen the child, teenager and young adult who can only do things with the help of others. Ridiculous but true and my bet is these children were never allowed to be bored! Activities like building a cubby with bedsheets and cushions, or watering the plants and creating big puddles to jump in in the process, don’t need adult help. Trust me, your kids are better off being shown how to do things and then being left to their own devices. Our kids will need to be practical, not just academic when they finally walk out of our doors (mind you, who knows when that will be, given the current price of homes. Best they can pull their weight :-o ).

If I’m to be totally honest, I love having my children needing me. But in the long run, their not needing me, just loving me will be the ultimate mark of my role as a parent. Giving our kids the chance to figure things out for themselves and not constantly filling up their day with things we think will interest them, or at least stop them whingeing at us, will give them a chance to be themselves. The wonderful people we initially created, along with the ability to think for themselves, problem solve and move about their environment with confidence.

Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.

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