Let your child be bored!

Spending quality time with your children is important, but should you feel that you need to keep your child entertained all day long? The answer may surprise you… it can be good for kids to experience boredom sometimes, and providing the conditions for quality free play is more important than organising a string of activities.

What are the potential benefits allowing your child to experience boredom?

  1. It can inspire creativity – you have probably all seen a child take an empty cardboard box and imagine it into a house, a boat, a spaceship and more! Without directly giving a child a ready-made toy or game, or all the ideas of what to play, the imagination will take over and kids can find fun in just about anything.
  2. Boredom also helps children develop planning strategies, problem-solving skills, flexibility and organisational skills – key abilities that children whose lives are highly structured may lack. It’s not the boredom itself that helps children develop these skills — it’s what they do with the boredom. Children do not typically plan their days, so when they are left to fill their time, they have to create a plan, organise their materials and solve problems.
  3. Life is not always super fun, and sometimes we need to deal with uncomfortable feelings such as loneliness and irritation. Boredom is a good opportunity for kids to learn how to deal with uncomfortable feelings – it is not super distressing, but it’s also not fun, and life will require us at times to manage and regulate our emotions when things aren’t going our way.
  4. It helps children understand themselves better – when left to their own devices to find something to do, they will more closely reflect on their interests, likes and dislikes.
  5. It can help teach children the value of perseverance. If something isn’t working out like they wanted, encourage them to keep trying, and give them a helping hand if necessary, which is another life skill that will benefit them in all their future pursuits.

So, while you may have to step in sometimes, don’t feel the need to rush in with activity ideas at the first sign of boredom, rather treat it as a positive experience.

The next time your child says, “I’m bored,” respond with, “Excellent news!  I can’t wait to see what you’ll do!”