Many parents will have encountered a bored child at some point in their parenting journey, especially on the back of school holidays! Out of guilt and impulse, our increasingly busy lifestyles can sometimes lead us to respond to children’s complaints of boredom with a never-ending list of suggestions and activities. However, this only serves to teach him to rely on external stimulus for entertainment. It also reinforces the constant societal need to appear ‘busy’. Sometimes, it’s OK for children to be bored. In fact, it can be a good thing!
In Western countries, we love being busy. So much so, it has been elevated to an emotion. However, low-intensity emotions such as calm are just as important. Both East Asia and the West value positive emotions, but people in East Asia place more value on the low-intensity emotions that result from more mundane activities such as taking a walk. Research has found that older Hong Kong Chinese adults are overall more satisfied with their lives than older Western adults, and our busy mind set could be contributing to that.
Too much excitement can burn children out. Free time is important for enhancing creativity. Research shows that when we're calm and not intensely focused, we're more likely to come up with brilliant ideas.
Children have been becoming increasingly anxious since the 1950s. By giving children more free time, we can help them to better manage stress and relaxation.
Here are five benefits of boredom:
1. Enhances creativity
Research suggests that boredom can enhance creativity. Sandi Mann and Rebekah Cadman conducted a divergent thinking test to study the capacity for creative output following participation in mundane activity. They found that participants who had been tasked with a boring activity immediately prior to the divergent thinking test generated more ideas than those who were spared the boredom activity.
2. It’s good for your health
Growing up in a digital age, many young people seek perpetual stimulation and spend too much time engaging with technology which can have serious health repercussions including, depression, anxiety, and lack of sleep.
3. Creates opportunities to practise mindfulness
If you find yourself in a pattern of boredom, see this as a good opportunity to practise mindfulness. Mindfulness helps strengthen our relationship with Christ. Research also shows that mindfulness in children is linked to improved attention, memory processing and decision-making abilities. There are many ways to encourage children to be mindful.
4. Promotes independence
Children need to learn how to cope with boredom to understand how to balance activities, engage in independent play and allow them to self-regulate. It is not up to parents to provide a constant source of entertainment and decide how every minute of a child’s day is planned. A healthy balance of scheduled activities and downtime is vital.
5. Time to focus on the future
Research has also found that boredom enhances our ability to plan for the future. Boredom helps our mind to wander and promotes spontaneous thought, an activity that is thought to help plan and anticipate personally relevant future goals. Having aspirations and goals is particularly important to encourage academic excellence.
6. Connect to God
Through prayer, calmness can help you to connect more deeply to God. It can allow you to have a more intimate conversation with God when in prayer. Take time out by minimising distracting thoughts so that you can focus on your relationship with God and the amazing grace of the Gospel.
Trinity Grammar School encourages your son to realise his potential, pursue his passions and discover his purpose all within the context of a supportive Christian environment. We have guided boys to grow in mind, body and spirit for over a century and we know what boys need to truly flourish and succeed.
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