"Mom, I'm bored!" What is your knee-jerk reaction when your child drops the B word?
Most of the time, we cannot imagine that our kids get bored, especially when you have bombarded his schedule with lots of things to do. There's homework, maybe a ballet class or soccer practice. At home, you have a library of books or a myriad to toys within his reach. And yet he tells you he's bored? That is just not possible, right?
Now don't get too riled up when your child tells you he's bored. It's rather great for their imagination, an expert says.
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Senior researcher at the University of East Anglia's School of Education and Lifelong Learning Dr. Teresa Belton says that boredom can help develop a child's innate ability to be creative. Dr. Belton interviewed several authors, artists, and scientists in her quest to study the effects of boredom. Here are a few anecdotes from her conversations:
Script-writer, comic and novelist Meera Syal said boredom made her write. Artist Grayson Perry, on the other hand, appreciated getting bored as an adult because it’s a “very creative state." Neuroscientist and expert on brain deterioration Professor Susan Greenfield happily entertained herself with making up stories, drawing pictures of her stories and going to the library, when she was young.
"When children have nothing to do now, they immediately switch on the TV, the computer, the phone or some kind of screen. The time they spend on these things has increased. But 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," said Dr. Belton, who have previously studied the impact of TV and videos on children's writing.
Boredom can also be an opportunity, according to Linda Caldwell, professor of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management and Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State. “Boredom should be motivational. It’s a sign that you need to change what you are doing and do something else,” she said. Learning to beat boredom is a life-skill every child should learn. And when kids connect with activities that mean something to them, their health and sense of identity both improve.
These days, kids are bombarded with extracurricular activities that they suddenly wouldn’t have an idea what to do with their free time. It’s either they have too much to do and these things have become too routine for them, he’s spending too much time in front of the screen. If your child seems lost as to what to do, throw him a few hints. You can point to towards books, his art area, someone to play with outdoors, to help you with chores. And when your child show interest in something, encourage him to pursue it. Learning takes place when we provide our kids with a home that has an atmosphere of love and acceptance that builds their self-esteem and confidence,” says Ma. Lutgarda Carlos, head of the Student Development Center of Claret School.
Building on your child’s experiences and letting him have his alone time—and get bored, yes—can be more beneficial to his overall development than you think.
Sources: June 15, 2015. “How to Deal with a Bored Kid” (time.com) March 27, 2013. “Feeling Bored? Make Something of It!” (huffingtonpost.co.uk) March 23, 2013. “Children should be allowed to get bored, expert says” (bbc.com)