Why Boredom for a Kid is not a Bad Thing

boredomA bored child is not a pretty thing.

Boredom in a child is not a pretty thing. A child needs things to do that occupy his time and his mind. A child will more easily get into trouble when he is bored. Ask me how I know.

Parents tend to try to make sure their kids are not bored. A bored child is a cranky child who gets into things he ought not and keeps bothering you. At least that’s what happened in our house when we were raising our half- dozen.

The problem is parents think it’s their responsibility to keep boredom at bay. We tend to think a child ought not be bored; therefore, we accept the  job to provide exciting things so boredom will not get the best of our kids – or of us. Your child must be responsible to find his own entertainment. It’s not your job, although you should provide space and encouragement.

Healthy boredom

Let me tell you what boredom can do for a child.

  • boredom can open a child’s mind. He finds things (books to read, games to play that he’s never played before) or makes things to occupy his time. Don’t stifle his creativity; let him experience boredom. It allows his mind to wander and daydream, creating problem-solving mental role-playing.
  • boredom brings out hidden abilities and talents. Each child has hidden talents, yet unearthed. If he doesn’t have time on his hands, he won’t find those talents.
  • boredom causes a child to make up his own entertainment. When a child is looking for something to do or wishes for a playmate, he has to create his own entertainment. He makes up his own stimulation. Don’t rob him of this opportunity.
Our half-dozen back in the day.

Keeping boredom at bay

A child with too much time on his hands is often bored. There are things we can do to ensure this does not happen.

  • Chores. When a child has daily responsibilities, it gives him something to do that benefits not only himself, but the family. Chores take time, and leave little room for boredom. If the chores are age appropriate, they will take more than just a minute or two.
  • Playmates. Kids enjoy being with other kids. That’s one benefit of having more than one or two kids. Playing together teaches life skills: taking turns, sharing, gentleness, and not always being first. Have play dates if necessary.
  • Space to create. When children have space for fun, play, and creating they are seldom bored. “Making a mess” is one of the best things you can allow your child – providing he also helps with clean-up. A sandbox, Legos, tinker toys, playdough, paper and scissors, crayons, and glue are inexpensive items your child should have for playtime. If you’re more concerned about the mess than your child’s mind, don’t expect your kids to be creative.
  • Playtime with you. When an adult plays with a child, reads to him, and helps in creativity, he will better learn how to entertain himself. One rainy day, I spent ten minutes making newspaper hats for our kids so we could march around the house with our hats. One trip around the house with me as the leader, and they were ready to play on their own. They marched up the steps and down, onto the furniture and off, and around the circle from hallway to living room to kitchen. Each child had a turn leading the march and every child had to copy the leader. The “march” took an hour of their time while I tidied up the kitchen.
  • Offer more chores or jobs. When a child expects you to entertain him, offer to let him clean a bathroom or mop a floor. Guaranteed, he’ll find something to do to get out from under foot. Ask me how I know!

The bottom line

You are the parent, not the entertainer or the stimulator. Provide your child with space and supplies for creativity. Encourage his abilities and interests during down time, then watch him flourish and find ways to entertain himself.

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  1. I like this post!! I too think a child’s creativity can be sharpened without fulltime direction. I remember having our children sit quietly for 5 minutes after they “didn’t have anything to do”. Some how they never needed another 5 minutes of quiet time to come up with a great idea!! I also think moms need to play games with the children; to watch for any form of cheating or bad sports in a child — it gives moms another opportunity to teach on those issues…

  2. Those are great ideas Gert. I recommend having a “boredom box”. A box that has craft items, books etc that’s just for when a child complains about being bored.

  3. Thank you. Your ideas are excellent! Thanks for sharing. I never tried the “5 minutes” idea, but suggesting that a bored child could go ahead and clean a bathroom usually took care of that. I suppose the 5 minutes would especially work for a child under 8 or 10. 🙂

  4. Thanks. The idea of a “boredom box” is an excellent one! I will keep that one for future reference.

  5. Growing up on a working farm, we learned early to not complain of boredom! weeds to pull, vegetables to pick and shell, leaves to rake, floors to sweep, furniture to dust, dishes to wash and dry, cooking to help with, piano to practice, clothes to sew—the list was endless.And we learned how to do lots of things, even to look after each other.

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