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Benefits of Boredom
We know that, despite all the dreamy ideas we have about summer, the reality of it can be a challenge. Between vacation and camp schedules, true down time can be hard for any family to find, and when you finally do, it’s not long before the whiny chorus of “I’m bored” starts to ensue. In today’s screen-filled, fast-paced world, kids simply don’t know what to do with a moment of nothing. But before you hand over the iPad or flip on the TV, take a look at some of these benefits of boredom.
Dr. Teresa Belton claims that boredom is necessary to developing the imagination. When kids have moments of what she calls, “stand-and-stare” time, their imagination has the opportunity to wander, which leads them to try new things. Dr. Belton goes so far as to say that today’s pressure to keep kids constantly busy and entertained can hinder the development of their imaginations.
Furthermore, the use of screens and other sources of external stimuli tends to “short circuit” the creative process. When a child must sit in the discomfort of boredom, they are given the opportunity to reflect, observe, process the world around them, and eventually come up with something to do or create to fill the time. This is what’s called developing an internal stimulus. Without the opportunity to grow this muscle, kids do not get to experience how they are able to take their reflections and observations about the world around them and create something with it that comes completely from within.
This process also reinforces the joy and value that can be found in being creative simply for the sake of doing it--not to impress a teacher, a parent or to achieve any form of reward. In this way, Dr. Belton claims that boredom is the key to creativity.
We know the whining can be annoying, and as parents, there is the constant pressure to provide the next best summer adventure or experience for kids. But don’t underestimate the value of unfilled time. Once the complaints die down, you may be surprised at what they’ll create, and they’ll have learned a valuable lesson about themselves--that they are capable of dreaming up amazing things, all on their own.