Tired of the, ‘I feel so bored!’ that comes often from your child? Well, boredom does have its benefits. So, allow your child to feel bored every now and then.
By Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj
Most parents would acknowledge the fact that they are at a loss when their child claims that she’s bored. They simply just don’t know how to fill up every waking moment of their child with activities so that she’s kept busy all the time. But, it would be surprising to know that boredom can be beneficial to children. The results of a study titled, ‘Does being bored make us more creative?’ published in the Creativity Research Journal (May 2014), by the authors Sandi Mann and Rebekah Cadman suggest that boring activities resulted in increased creativity. Well, not just creativity, there are other benefits too that boredom has to offer to your child.
1. Encourages daydreaming: What’s the first thing that any one does when they feel bored? Daydream, right? And, ever wondered of what good daydreaming could be? The American poet Juan Felipe Herrera said, “Let's detox our cluttered academic brain. That's what the poet does. People call it daydreaming, detoxing our minds and taking care of that clutter.” True! Daydreaming declutters and detoxes the mind. So, let your child indulge in it, once in a while. Also, it will provide avenues for your child’s imagination. Above all, daydreaming can also lead to goal-setting and planning for the future, thereby, boosting your child’s self-esteem.
2. Acts as a stress-buster: With the hustle and bustle of today’s life putting undue pressure on children, boredom provides them with that much-needed rest for their body and mind. It relieves them of stress and helps them unwind. Simply doing nothing and being inactive refreshes them.
3. Leads to introspection: Your child would be forced to contemplate and introspect when she is bored stiff. This act of looking deep within herself will help her assess her accomplishments and failures. It will also give her an insight into her strengths, weaknesses, interests, innate talents, likes, dislikes, etc. In short, boredom can help your child’s self-awareness process, which is very essential for the development of one’s personality. “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom,” said the Greek philosopher Socrates. So, do not deprive your child of boredom, on the other hand, encourage her to spend her spells of boredom in getting to know herself better.
4. Boosts creativity: Boredom acts as the calm before a storm. For, after periods of boredom your child will experience outbursts of creative energy. Therefore, he will be able to engage better in activities that require imagination and creativity. Also, when your child is bored, he will be forced to innovate and come up with newer means of keeping himself occupied.
5. Enhances problem-solving: When you are bored, your mind will tend to ponder over problems. And, as the mind is free from distraction during boredom, coming up with solutions will be quite easy. So, do not banish boredom from your child’s little world.
6. Helps appreciate nature: Sitting on a window sill and watching the rain, lying on a mat out in the open and watching the floating clouds, listening to the chirp of the birds, observing the breeze rustle past trees and plants – all of us do this when bored. These simple acts make us one with nature. ‘What is this life, if full of care, I have no time to stand and stare?’ asks the poet W H Davies in his poem ‘Leisure’. Isn’t that true? If our being busy prevents us from enjoying the mundane pleasures of nature, aren’t we depriving ourselves of leisure? So, let your child feel bored; it’ll give him an opportunity to become one with nature.
7. Teaches to act independently: When your child is bored, she is forced to manage her time on her own and come up with her own activities. This teaches her independence. So, the next time your child says she’s bored, tell her that she is the master of her time and will, therefore, have to chart out what needs to be done by herself.
8. Sharpens the power of observation: When your child has nothing else to occupy him, he will become keenly aware of his surroundings. He will learn to notice the happenings in his immediate environment. For example, if he stations himself at the window and watches the traffic pass by, he will begin to take note of the traffic patterns, the types of vehicles, etc. Similarly, even watching a spider spin its cobweb or ants forming a line as they proceed to their hole will make him learn a lesson or two about the world of insects. Thus, his observation powers will become refined.
So, instead of trying to fill up every moment of your child’s time with activities, why don’t you go ahead and schedule boredom into her routine? It will do her a world of good.
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Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj