Those dreaded words came out of Georgie’s mouth. And I felt gutted. Thoughts of what I was doing wrong as a parent whizzed through my mind. Have you ever felt this way? That night I went into a research frenzy, trying to find a reason to justify my child’s feelings. And I came across something really interesting.
It’s ok for children to feel bored. Shocker right? But apparently, we’re so used to living in a society that’s constantly on the go, busy and entertained we don’t realise that being bored has major advantages. Unstructured time can do wonders for children’s creativity because it forces them to become creative, to decide for themselves and they almost always end up doing something interesting. By responding to our child with technological entertainment or structured activities i,e filling their time with afternoon classes and lessons, we’re not allowing them to just be.
Lyn Fry, a London child psychologist with a focus on education in this article said: “There’s no problem with being bored. I think children need to learn how to be bored in order to motivate themselves to get things done. Being bored is a way to make children self-reliant.”
Dr Vanessa Lapointe said to Huffington Post: “Children need to sit in the nothingness of boredom in order to arrive at an understanding of who they are. They need to sit in their own boredom for the world to become quiet enough that they can hear themselves.”
Dr Teresa Belton told the BBC that she quizzed author Meera Syal and artist Greyson Perry about how boredom had aided their creativity when they were young. She said that Meera’s lack of things to do “spurred her to talk to people she would not have otherwise engaged with and to try activities she would not, under other circumstances, have experienced such as talking to elderly neighbours and baking cakes. But most importantly, boredom made her write.”
Since discovering this new way of dealing with boredom I’ve tried it out with Georgie. A couple of mornings and afternoons of nothingness and he surprised me and papa when he made two cars out of cardboard boxes. Exhaust engines, seat belts and all.
So what do you think? Should we slow down and allow our kids to experience boredom? I’d love to know your thoughts.