The benefits of being bored

Library Home  >  Parenting & Family Life
  Published on Wednesday, 21 February 2018

The benefits of being bored

Library Home  >  Parenting & Family Life
  Published on Wednesday, 21 February 2018
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A busy kid is a happy kid, but what about a bored kid?

Well, contrary to what your little complainer may think, a bit of boredom is actually a good thing.

And according to Teresa Belton, visiting fellow at the University of East Anglia, in the UK, parents needn't feel pressured to entertain and educate their children every second of every day. In fact, letting them twiddle their thumbs now and then can open up new opportunities for creativity, development and life-long fulfilment.

What are the benefits of being at a loose end?

Ms Belton says, "Parents often feel guilty if children complain of boredom. But it’s actually more constructive to see boredom as an opportunity rather than a deficit."

Feeling "borrrrrrrrred" is a chance for children to reflect, problem-solve, try new things and develop important life skills, including:

  • Inventiveness
  • Observance
  • Focus
  • Persistence
  • Pro-activeness
  • Independence
  • Self-awareness

What role can parents play?

The idea is to support children, rather than offer ready-made boredom busters. This means parents should:

  • Encourage children to be curious, persistent, playful, interested and confident
  • Give them the space, time and opportunity to make a mess (within limits)
  • Provide materials they can entertain themselves with, e.g. a cardboard box or a magnifying glass
  • Offer inspiration if they’re lost for ideas

What about screen time?

Keeping a child entertained constantly is a tall order, and screen time is an easy way to fill the gaps in your child's day and give everyone some downtime.

However, research has indicated that TV-watching can lessen a child's imaginativeness, so it's a good idea to leave your child to their own devices now and then (and we don't mean electronic devices!).

How can parents help provide boredom solutions?

Instead of parking them in front of a screen, prompt your child’s imagination and steer them towards self-play by setting creative challenges.

Here are six kids' activities that parents can suggest when boredom strikes:

  • Making up a song/dance routine
  • Inventing a game, e.g. dinosaur hunting outside or a board game inside
  • Writing a book or diary, including drawings and/or photos
  • Creating a backyard obstacle course or building an inside fort
  • Inventing a recipe
  • Challenging them to learn/find three new things

And on that note, let's help children move through boredom and beyond!

This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Wednesday, 05 February 2020

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