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Why Boredom Frightens Parents and Why It's Good for Kids

bored child

"Mom, I'm bored" What is it about that sentence that frightens us parents to death and makes us willing to live on a treadmill that can end up running us, instead of us running it? I think the idea of boredom nips at the core of what makes us parents. Our child only has to utter the word 'bored' and suddenly we've failed. We're no longer the parent that cares enough to constantly keep our child stimulated. We're neglectful and in order to perpetrate this horrible sin we must have gulp, put someone or something ahead of our child's needs.

Ok, that's it. Time to hand in the 'Parent of the Year' award and take on the title of 'Parental Failure.' But wait, hang on. Is it possible that letting our offspring be bored might actually be good for them? Let's look at the possibilities. Is there anything that our child might gain from being bored? Well, yes there is and this is an excellent time to talk about it as those warm long summer days filled with potential boredom are not far off on the horizon. Out of boredom comes something very special. It's not packaged, it's not arranged but it's definitely there. Slowly but surely a child's brain will start to wander and from this wandering comes something very exciting, a fort made out of their quilt, an imaginary horse made from the back of the sofa or other endlessly creative ideas. And for this creative thought to emerge, boredom is not only a good to have, it's often a pre-requisite.

Keeping children constantly occupied is not good for them and it's not good for you. People who cannot entertain themselves grow in to unfulfilled adults who forever search for that 'outside' thing to make them whole. Learning to live with yourself is a skill that's just as important to learn as good table manners and it won't arrive on it's own.

Give a touch of boredom a whirl and see what happens because out of that abyss of nothingness can come something wonderful. Yes, you have to be prepared for the initial whining but ignore away and resist the temptation to put on the telly, give them access to the computer or rush off to the sports center or playground. Does that mean that there's no room for structured activities etc.? Of course not, but there are definitely moments when a little bit of boredom is not only good but essential.

And who knows? It might actually be good for you too. Allowing your kids to occasionally get bored means not only will their personal creativity abound but when you do arrange activities, they'll be appreciated as something to get excited about. Not only that, but while they're expanding their imagination, you might even get a moment for a quiet cool drink in the summer sun or perhaps more realistically, at least be able to get up to date with the laundry!