Spend a few minutes on Pinterest, and you’ll find hundreds of boredom busters for kids. But did you know that kids need to be bored? I have personally experienced many benefits from letting my kids be bored. Here are a few of the things we’ve noticed:
Real life reasons kids need to be bored:
1. Boredom drives creativity.
Kids need to be bored because boredom triggers creativity. When we fill every waking moment with fun and educational activities, we actually rob our kids of the creative benefits of boredom. When I realized this, I started setting aside time each day for supervised, entertainment-free play. I won’t lie – it was painful at first! There were tantrums for them, and waves of mom-guilt for me. But I stuck it out, and I was amazed to see how quickly they adjusted – and the fun and creative activities they came up with on their own.
2. Boredom is a catalyst for unstructured play.
And unstructured play is super important! Letting our kids be bored, and encouraging them to play without adult input or direction is an amazing gift we can give them as parents:
“Undirected play allows children to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills. When play is allowed to be child driven, children practice decision-making skills, move at their own pace, discover their own areas of interest, and ultimately engage fully in the passions they wish to pursue.” – (source) AAP News & Journals – Pediatrics
Of course, not every kid adjusts easily to screen-free, unstructured play. I regularly give my kids the choice between helping with an extra chore, or playing on their own. Either choice is a win for both of us!
3. Learning to deal with boredom in a healthy way helps kids succeed in life.
The truth is, boredom is part of life. It’s uncomfortable, and can even be scary if you’re not used to it. Learning to work through boredom is part of growing up. Giving our kids the opportunity to overcome boredom in childhood may actually set them up for success as adults. In fact, this article suggests that wildly successful adults actually embrace boredom.
4. Boredom helps us to appreciate the beauty around us – if we let it.
We all need white space in our lives, especially kids. Boredom is the white space of childhood. Sometimes the most amazing parts of life get drowned out by the apps and notifications and flashing lights. It takes intentional effort to make room for the important things.
Several months ago we experienced this firsthand. We started doing short canoe trips as a family. At first, our girls were almost unbearably bored, and the whining almost made us quit. But after awhile they started to actually enjoy the journey and see the amazing wildlife around us. We had to persevere through the boredom so they could experience the joy of canoeing.
It’s all about balance.
Mom guilt is a thing. I know that I’ve fallen into the trap of constantly entertaining my kids. I also have times where I avoid my own boredom by getting sucked into mindless entertainment. The battle for balance is constant in my life, and I’m sure it is for you too.
At the end of the day, kids don’t need to be constantly entertained. They do need healthy boundaries. For us, making room for healthy boredom every day has been so beneficial! Our kids are more relaxed and definitely more creative. It has encouraged me even more to model healthy boundaries in my own life.
Do you see a connection between boredom and creativity in your own life? Do you struggle with mom guilt when allowing your kids to be bored? Any tips or tricks you’d recommend? Please share in the comments!
Jamie writes about living intentionally and finding beauty and perspective in the adventures of everyday life. When she’s not writing, she’s living her own adventures – working full time at an ER registration desk, parenting two spicy girls, and collaborating with her husband on the remodel of a former one-room schoolhouse on their homestead in rural Wisconsin.