A recent study suggests that, on average, kids say “I’m bored!” more than 200 times per summer. Divide that by the number of “vacation” days they have, and you may be tempted to load up on a seamless schedule of never-ending activities to cure the complaints. Before you go into summer camp overdrive, however, read these quotes from some of our favorite parents experts and resources. The truth is, boredom may very well be one of the greatest gifts we can give our kids.
“If we keep [kids] busy with lessons and structured activity, or they ‘fill’ their time with screen entertainment, they never learn to respond to the stirrings of their own hearts, which might lead them to study the bugs on the sidewalk (as Einstein did for hours), build a fort in the back yard, make a monster from clay, write a short story or song, or organize the neighborhood kids into making a movie.” Laura Markham, Aha Parenting
“Boredom is often the precursor to creativity. Think of a bridge between ‘doing nothing’ and the sort of deep creative play… The bridge is almost always paved with (the frustration of) boredom. “I’m bored!” Now *that* is when something interesting usually happens. (Don’t bother explaining this to kids because they won’t believe it, and they’ll find the thought of it very annoying.)” John Kim Payne, Simplicity Parenting
“Your initial tone could be something like, ‘Ohhh, bored, huh? Hmmm. Nothing to do. Wow, nothing to do,’ and then, be there and attentive. Flop down right next to your child, wherever he or she landed when the boredom hit. You want to let your presence and lack of worry about the situation sink in, so stay attuned, perhaps propping yourself up on your elbow now and then to make eye contact, or snuggling in a bit closer as the minutes roll by.” Hand in Hand Parenting
Kids who are always bored in their leisure time are in danger of developing long-term boredom, where nothing is ever interesting, says Linda Caldwell, professor of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management and Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State. “That long-term boredom has been linked to substance abuse, school drop out, and vandalism. And boredom doesn’t just come from having too few activities, Caldwell says. “It could be a sign you have too many.” Time Magazine article.
“Children need to have stand-and-stare time, time imagining and pursuing their own thinking processes or assimilating their experiences through play or just observing the world around them.” Dr Teresa Belton, Research Associate and Visiting Fellow, University of East Anglia.