It's OK to be bored: The case for making space for curiosity
Being bored has been proven to increase creativity and curiosity, while enhancing mental health. It gives us space to slow down, feel less pressure, and to digest our experiences.Posted — Updated
I am, by no means, a perfect parent. My kids often watch TV while eating a meal. And, there are many times that I let technology serve as a babysitter while getting something done around the house (or taking a shower!)
With COVID, we’ve all had to use more technology. During last year’s virtual school, I put my 3-year-old in front of the iPad for over an hour so that I could get work done while my kindergartner joined her class on her computer. And, I started to notice that the more they were exposed to the stimulation that technology provided, the less they were okay with being bored or playing on their own. It became a cycle that, still, four months later, we are working to unlearn.
Even this weekend, in between activities, my first grader complained to me, “What am I supposed to do? I am bored.”
“Figure it out.” I replied.
There was whining. She was not happy about it. And I know I could have offered suggestions. I could have stressed myself out trying to find something to entertain her. I could have brought out the iPad or put on the TV.
But, I didn’t. And, you know what? She found something to do and played and read for over an hour by herself.
And, by stepping back, I got to witness her feeling empowered and independent as she problem-solved and came to her own decision. Not only that, she chose a task she really enjoyed, so she played longer and with more contentment.
So, why do we feel the need for us and our children to be constantly entertained? Why did we freak out when instagram and Facebook went down for four hours recently?
Now is our chance to turn off technology and reclaim space for curiosity for our children. Let’s let our children experience boredom, so that they learn skills which can transform the way they navigate experiences now and in the future.
Here are some simple tips that can help you as a parent, step back and make space for curiosity.
Set aside unstructured time. Make a point to not schedule a part of every day. Even if it’s just 15 or 30 minutes, set aside time to have no agenda.
Limit screen time. Set guidelines for screen time that work best for your family and stick to them. Instead of defaulting to a screen to keep your kids entertained, try asking them to get creative and figure out an activity to do on their own. Your kids might fight you on this at first, but by sticking to the guidelines, they will soon find things to do that don’t involve screens and you will all reap the rewards.
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