Why Is It Good for Children to Be Bored?
If you’re a mother, you’ll have heard your children complain on numerous occasions that they’re bored. Whether it’s because they’re doing an unsatisfactory task or because they have nothing to do, they come to you for relief and solutions to this unpleasant state. Normally, we adults go out of our way to offer them suggestions, which, by the way, don’t manage to entertain or satisfy them for long. But what if we were to tell you that it’s a good thing for children to be bored?
We’re not just talking about accepting this state as just another part of life, one that we simply have to tolerate. On the contrary, we suggest you discover the benefits of boredom and understand how it is crucial for children to develop different skills. Moreover, they’ll be able to build a purposeful day-to-day life. We’ll tell you more below.
Why is it good for children to be bored?
Boredom is an internal state characterized by the absence of interest, fun, or entertainment. It has a negative valence, in that it’s experienced as an unpleasant feeling and is common to all human beings. Both adults and children get bored at different times. But the latter, perhaps to a greater extent because they still lack a series of self-regulation strategies.
However, despite the natural and everyday nature of this emotion, the truth is that it’s difficult for parents to manage the moment when their children experience it. And that being said, our suggestion is to do just the opposite: Don’t try to fix your children’s boredom, but rather let them feel it. The fact of the matter is that, far from what we usually think, this emotion can be positive, necessary, and beneficial for different reasons.
They learn to tolerate discomfort
We can’t forget that childhood is a stage of preparation for life and that it will inevitably involve complicated moments. This is why, although we want our children to be as happy as possible, it’s crucial to teach them how to deal with these negative feelings. And to do so, they need to experience them.
If, instead of frantically looking for ways to entertain your child, you allow them to feel this state, you give them the opportunity to learn to tolerate frustration. Also, you help them understand that not everything always happens according to one’s wishes and that this is okay. In a way, this raises their threshold for discomfort and makes them better able to cope with other similar situations.
For example, it’s common that when children are bored, adults allow or suggest that they use screens. However, in the long run, this makes them more likely to get bored, as it increases the amount of stimulation they need to feel good.
When a child is bored, when they don’t receive the stimulation they’re looking for from the outside, their only option is to look inward, and that’s really positive. The lack of entertainment offers precisely that space and time for introspection, that is, to get to know and understand oneself better.
Therefore, the child can understand what they feel, what they need, and what they like and dislike, so they get in touch with their emotions, interests, and desires. And this is something that wouldn’t be achieved if they were constantly engaged in games, tasks, and activities proposed by others.
Enhanced creativity and initiative
At the same time, it has been found that boredom is very beneficial when it comes to enhancing creativity and imagination. For example, a study published in Creativity Research Journal found that people are more creative after performing boring tasks. Similarly, research from the Australian National University found that being bored helps people increase their cognitive productivity and generate new ideas.
Therefore, the absence of entertainment motivates children to let their imaginations run wild and encourages them to seek new goals and objectives to engage in. In this way, they develop greater initiative and autonomy. In addition, they generate projects of their own and carry them out to alleviate that discomfort that acts as a driving force.
Let children be bored so they can live with purpose
Ultimately, letting children be bored is beneficial because it helps them live with purpose. This is achieved by bringing all of the above elements together. On the one hand, they understand who they are, what they want, and what they need; and on the other, they gain the motivation to work toward those goals of their own.
Finally, boredom is an emotion that acts as a guide by indicating that the current situation is no longer stimulating and that it’s time to move in new directions. This can translate into finding a more entertaining study technique, inventing a new game, or seeking the company of a sibling for a joint activity. Whatever the need detected, strategies are put in place to solve it.
However, this set of problem-solving skills is only developed if, initially, boredom and the discomfort it entails are allowed. For a child who receives an immediate solution from their parents doesn’t have the opportunity to carry out this whole process. Therefore, instead of placating your children’s boredom, validate their excitement and accompany them as they learn from this powerful state.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Bench, S. W., & Lench, H. C. (2013). On the function of boredom. Behavioral sciences, 3(3), 459-472. https://www.mdpi.com/2076-328x/3/3/459
- Elpidorou, A. (2018). The good of boredom. Philosophical Psychology, 31(3), 323-351. https://web.archive.org/web/20200319203903id_/https://philpapers.org/archive/ELPTGO.pdf
- Mann, S., & Cadman, R. (2014). Does being bored make us more creative?. Creativity Research Journal, 26(2), 165-173.
- Park, G., Lim, B. C., & Oh, H. S. (2019). Why being bored might not be a bad thing after all. Academy of Management Discoveries, 5(1), 78-92.