It has taken me twenty-five years, give or take a year or two, to enjoy boredom. The idea of having or not knowing what to do is alien to us as adults, and even more so as parents with the mountain of things to do on our never-ending list.
Being idle is not something we are used to, but allowing ourselves to be bored is quite an interesting game to play; it’s even more important in childhood. But not many of us enjoy being bored, kids less so. We become restless, agitated, and oddly exhausted when we struggle to lean into the boredom. We want to escape it, but what happens if we allow ourselves to be bored? And why is boredom so important for our kids?
Boredom Encourages Creativity
We are all perhaps aware that boredom is the spark plug on our imagination. Settle down into boredom and we will soon find we are no longer bored. For children, learning to be bored is an excellent skill that helps foster imagination and creativity. Being bored encourages us to think, to inwardly express ourselves, and allows our minds to wander. We begin to problem-solve and think in different ways. This creativity is important for kids as they will use this to learn about and adapt to the world around them.
Boredom Benefits Our Mental Well-Being
We are overloaded and overwhelmed in this era. We consume information at a terrifyingly fast pace and can struggle to switch off, connect, and engage with people in the room. Being bored and avoiding the "always-on" worlds gives our brains a chance to switch off, quieten down, and regroup. Because our brains are not happy with being inactive, it searches for something to pursue. Our well-being benefits from our brain's reaction to boredom in trying to find a purpose and understand what our values in life are. It may not seem as though our kids are grappling with the meaning of life, but they are learning about their own meaning to the world around them.
Boredom Pushes Our Boundaries
Without boredom, we may not see outside of our own box. Boredom encourages us to take risks, set challenges, and push our boundaries. It helps us to recognise what we would prefer to be doing at that moment in time and challenges us to pursue new activities and reach new goals. This motivation encourages our kids to take control of their lives and make their own decisions.
Boredom Benefits Self-Control
Without boredom in childhood, we would not learn how to develop our self-control. Boredom teaches us to regulate our thoughts, emotions, and our actions. If we can handle boredom, we have sharpened that skill of self-control, which helps to create self-awareness.