Psychologists argue that when children have nothing to do like a structured activity or an enrichment class, then they create things to occupy their minds. It seems to make sense logically, but what can be the flip side of the whole thing?
BENEFITS OF BOREDOM
Like most things in life, I feel it is a question of balance. Children need some structured activities in their lives, and they also need some time of their own to explore their own thoughts, ideas and the world around them. Most parents fear their children getting bored and spend many hours and a great deal of money keeping their children busy with sports, music and art classes after school. They’re afraid that their kids will be bored if they have nothing to do. Yet children who are allowed to experience boredom occasionally can actually benefit in a number of ways:
Boredom allows a child time to get to know himself A child who has nothing to do is forced to think about what he likes and dislikes, and where his interests are. He will learn to do things because he wants to, not because his mum signed him up to do something, or because a friend was doing it. Boredom gives him time to think thoughts that teach him about himself.
Creativity Children who are given the space and time to occupy themselves will naturally create their own entertainment. Some will invent their own games, read a book, start a craft project. Of course they may first go through a period of complaining that they are bored, but once they realize that it their responsibility to come up with something to overcome this boredom, children can be amazingly creative.
Reading Providing you have some interesting books available, and providing you limit TV and computer time, children may turn to reading as a way of alleviating boredom. This will tend to happen particularly in families where parents themselves are avid readers and model the reading habit.
Observation Boredom can help children become more observant of their surroundings. A child who is rushed from one activity to the next may become oblivious to her surroundings, but a bored child who is looking for something to do will tend to pay more attention to her environment.
Imagination Children who have some free time are more likely to turn to imaginative play.
BALANCE IS THE KEY
Creativity is an asset on every level – personal, institutional, national. It is about the consideration of possibilities, the generation of new ideas, asking why not instead of why, invention. Yet creativity is not a subject that can be taught. It is an approach to learning, an approach that is at the opposite end of the spectrum to memorisation and the regurgitation of facts, and an approach which demands that students ask questions as well as answer them, that they be encouraged to make explorations and discoveries in learning and that they be encouraged the think critically and creatively about issues in the world around them. Having some time and opportunity to think creatively is important. Balance is the key.
WHAT ARE SOME WAYS OF ENHANCING A CHILD’S CREATIVITY?
Children need the guidance of parents or other adults if their boredom is to be constructive, and lead to creativity: they need to be shown how to overcome boredom. Since young children learn through their play, it’s important to have a selection of good toys for them. However while good toys can inspire creativity, having too many toys may actually stifle it. Invest in a few creative toys such as Lego or a doll’s house, and hand them out sparingly – with fewer choices, just will get more creative mileage out of their toys and will learn to use them in different ways.
Limit the amount of TV and computer games your children can watch and try to make time to watch with them, thus having the opportunity to discuss what they are watching and inspire creative thoughts. Don’t let your children settle into a pattern of watching television whenever there’s nothing to do. If you put time limits on electronics, there will be time left for other things that require more active participation. Have conversations with children, asking them for their opinions and ideas. Not putting their ideas down, no matter how different from your ideas they might be.
Involving children in problem-solving activities at home; let them plan and host a dinner party for their friends, right from the preparation stage to the after dinner tidy up; have them work out ways you can, as a family, reduce, reuse and recycle materials. Help them learn how to resolve problems and arguments constructively. Encourage children to have a wide circle of friends – children are naturally sociable and learn a great deal from one another. Allowing children to take the initiative and having a permissive attitude to mistakes. Children learn when they get things wrong and should not be penalized for errors. Try to spend more quality time with your child – a cry of boredom may be a cry for parental attention!
Finally, make a conscious create a balance between organised classes and activities and free time so that your child can have the best of both worlds, and opt for organised activities that nurture creativity and encourage children to think for themselves.Sometimes all they need is a little guidance and inspiration from their parents on ways in which they can start to think about overcoming boredom.