With so many children out of school and stuck indoors for the foreseeable future, a lot of parents are struggling with the pressure to keep kids educated and entertained. But where the latter is concerned, at least, experiencing boredom can actually be developmentally helpful for children. That's according to psychologists like Lyn Fry.
“Your role as a parent is to prepare children to take their place in society," Lyn Fry, a London-based child psychologist with a focus on education has told Quartz. "Being an adult means occupying yourself and filling up your leisure time in a way that will make you happy. If parents spend all their time filling up their child’s spare time, then the child’s never going to learn to do this for themselves.”
In fact, Fry isn't alone in sharing this belief.
Dr. Teresa Belton, a visiting fellow at the University of East Anglia who focuses on the connection between boredom and imagination, has told the BBC that boredom is necessary in order for children to develop "internal stimulus" and, ultimately, get creative.
Don't quite buy it? Consider this.
1. Boredom forces kids to use their imaginations to play.
If your child is bored, they'll be forced to think outside the box. When they're not given toys or games with which to play, they'll have to come up with their own imaginative games to play.
2. Free time means more time for introspection.
Uninterrupted free time is self-care time. This is because it allows us to look inward and be alone in our own thoughts, reflections and ideas. If your child is left alone with nothing to distract them, it's inevitable that they'll start to look inward.
3. Out of boredom can come creative geniuses.
Inspiration often strikes when we're bored — sitting there with nothing else to do but make up creations in our heads... some of which manifest into realities. Writers write out of boredom. Musicians make music out of boredom. Designers design out of boredom. That's because when we have a choice as to how to fill our empty space, we fill it with our passions, many of which are creative.
4. Being bored is a natural feeling that they'll have to learn at some point anyway.
Everyone will experience boredom at some point in time, including your children. They might as well be introduced to boredom young so that they don't become too attached to constant stimulation. This way, they can develop a healthier relationship with boredom and use their time wisely and productively (even if that means catching up on self-care practices like just plain relaxing!), instead of turning to abused (and, thus, toxic) stimulants down the line.
5. Boredom will encourage them to spend more quality time with each other.
When your children don't have toys or cell phone or televisions or computers or games, they'll have... each other. And they'll spend a lot more quality time together than they would if they did have any or all of those things. That's because they'll likely talk more and engage their imaginations together.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.