Why boredom is good for kids
Spring is here and the school holidays are in full swing in most parts of Australia, meaning the work/life juggle to keep children entertained whilst maintaining an income becomes all too real.
All this new-found free time can frequently be accompanied by the dreaded “I’m boooored!” That toe-curling statement that pushes all your buttons if you don’t learn how to circumnavigate it.
It’s all too tempting to resort to the ‘electronic babysitter’, aka tablets, smartphones, computers, Game Boys. However, we are doing our kids a disservice by resorting to this easy ‘out’. Researchers believe that boredom is akin to the restorative effects of sleep – it’s when information is synthesised and new brain connections are wired.
Imagine, invent and create
Don’t feel coerced into being your child’s entertainment director. Heavy digital use has been linked to stress, depression, fatigue and even self-esteem issues, so unplugging and recharging into the real world will help short circuit these issues.
Kids are never too young to learn time management skills, which is a valuable by-product that happens during periods of unstructured play and small deadlines (“We’ll go to the beach in an hour.”). This essential life skill comes in handy when they’re juggling university assignments, extracurricular activities and a busy social life.
More importantly, this precious unstructured time gives them the licence to explore their inner and outer worlds, to foster creativity – to imagine, invent, and create.
Good old-fashioned boredom gets the creative juices flowing as kids are forced to daydream, doodle, or just sit around until inspiration hits them. It’s too easy to get lost down the rabbit hole of the digital world, but take that away, and their natural curiosity and resourcefulness can come to the fore.
The importance of imaginative play
Left to their own devices – and we don’t mean digital! – children quickly rediscover all the unused toys and games they have cast aside. During school terms, many kids have heavy before and after school schedules of sport, music, swimming lessons, and so on.
School holidays provide children with an opportunity to immerse themselves in imaginative play, read a book, and reconnect with nature by playing outdoors. They may even discover their inner entrepreneur by earning extra pocket money selling unused toys, books and clothes on eBay.