Boredom in Children – A Powerful Learning Tool
What exactly is boredom in children? It seems they can only have fun through electronic devices in this digital era and seem lost when they don't have them.
Today’s article is about the power of boredom in children. First of all, you must understand that the human brain is designed for seeking constant stimulation. For example, it’s difficult to talk to someone if there’s a TV behind you. This is because their eyes tend to gravitate toward it as their brain wants more information about the moving pictures on the screen. It’ll happen regardless of the content. This is because constant change nourishes the human brain. Thus, it wants updates on any changes in information, however small and useless they may be.
If it happens to adults, just imagine what happens in a child’s brain. Yes, they have the same need for stimulation but children’s brains trigger it in an exaggerated way.
“I think it’s necessary to let the kids be bored once in a while. That’s how they learn to be creative.”
Boredom in children
Unfortunately, children are constantly watching television or using a phone or tablet as the main tool to satisfy their needs. This comes at a high price because, when the child takes in all of this stimulation, their brain doesn’t rest. Actually, they don’t want to rest and they continue to seek stimuli.
This is the moment when they say, generally in a sad, melancholic tone: “I’m bored!” A child’s world is over just two minutes after they shut down their devices. This is because they can’t find anything that comes close to the sensory stimuli such devices provide.
These tools are quite handy for fathers and mothers because they keep their children entertained so they’re not “bothering” their parents. Just look around you at any cafeteria or restaurant and there’ll be at least one infant holding a multimedia device in their hands while adults have an uninterrupted conversation.
Also, nowadays, some vehicles have video screens in their rear seats. Their sole purpose is to entertain young passengers and keep them from being bored. And, incidentally, the driver and their front-seat passenger can speak quietly.
What to do about boredom in children
It seems that all your efforts to keep children from being bored do more for adults than they do for their well-being. Is it really that bad to be bored? What does boredom even mean?
Many decades ago, when cell phones and tablets didn’t yet exist, children sat in the backseat of cars and looked out the window. That’s it. They just sat there and watched and listened. That was when magic happened.
Perhaps those children happened to see a beautiful horse galloping next to the car, a long-necked brown steed with its black mane. Thus, their imagination would kick in.
Boredom in children can be a great opportunity to stimulate their imagination.
How to recognize and enhance imagination and creativity in children
How can you enhance your children’s imagination? First of all, do a little test and let them get bored. Let them find the sort of stimulation their brain needs. If your child has any difficulties with this, you can try some of the following tips:
- Encourage them to play with something that has no batteries. Don’t impose it as a punishment, just present it as a game or even as a challenge.
- You are their role model, so you must follow suit. This means that you shouldn’t watch TV nor use any multimedia devices during that time.
- Don’t offer alternatives, let them look around and discover what stimulates them the most on their own.
- If they choose one of their toys, pay attention to what it is: animation figures, miniature vehicles, puzzles, construction games, crafts, reading… You’ll then know how they like to entertain themselves and how you might be able to enhance their imagination by offering more of those types of toys.
- If they’re not enjoying them, then play with them for a little while and then step aside. Do so gradually. This way, they won’t become dependent on your presence.
- If they just can’t find anything that appeals to them, help them reorganize their toys. It’ll be the perfect time to discard anything they no longer use. You can even donate them and involve your child in the donation.
- Reward their autonomy in leisure time management. Be interested in what they do and how they do it. Look at their new projects and find out what they need to complete them.
- Make a weekly schedule of the time they can devote to media devices and stick to it.
Not all children are equal. Thus, some of them may not respond well to the imposed reduction of exposure hours to their multimedia devices.
This is when it’s important not to give in to your child’s whining. In fact, it’ll be precisely the high intensity and frequency of anger, protests, and criticism that will reveal to what extent they needed your intervention.