Viva Boredom! Let Your Kids Get Bored

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Bethe Almeras, aka. The Grass Stain Guru, tweeted me today, “I look forward to today’s kids getting bored! They are so over-scheduled & adult-led. Viva boredom! :o”  Thank you, Bethe, for my blog post title because today I want to elaborate on the benefits of boredom and why it should be a summer goal.

Encouraging Boredom

1. No television.

2. No video games either.

That should about do it.

Seriously, no television. Television is the opiate of the masses and it isn’t making any of us, especially our children, any smarter.

I took a fast from television for over a year and it felt great not to fill my head with the gossip, news, or violent story lines –they never contributed to my personal growth as a human being anyway. Television just made me dull, and I got less sleep because I stayed up too late, zoned out.

Now I admit that I’m back on some — in moderation. But, I am an adult, not a child who needs to learn and grow. (Although one could argue that it is like a drug and we all are junkies.) Be that as it may, it’s that much more important that we don’t allow our children to be dulled by the television drug.

I’m telling you, the boredom plan is beneficial! Because if you can tough it out long enough, you’ll see amazing thinking, imagining, and playing happen.

Benefits of Boredom

Why is it that we adults hate being bored? In my case, I’m constantly busy, as if I’m running away from boredom. If I’m not working, then I’m cleaning, checking my to do list, reading a book, working out, I’m squeezing something into every moment — boredom doesn’t enter into my life ever.

But it should. For me and for my kids.

And we don’t just try to prevent our own boredom, we do it for our kids. We provide too many toys, too many options, too many scheduled activities, and when all else fails, we turn on the t.v.

Yesterday, after many days of whining for the television, JJ played in her room independently –for hours. I heard music, singing, dancing. Apparently a fairy kingdom was created, too.

When our kids are bored, wonderful things can happen. Like finding a good book and curling up into a cozy chair to read. Like inventing a magical fairy kingdom on your bed. Like playing Hogwarts and developing new scenes in Harry Potter.

Relearning What to Do When You’re Bored

Make a “What to Do When You’re Bored” list. It probably won’t get used much but it will stop the whining and force your child to think of something even better than what’s on the list. Print out mine or try the Boredom Buster Jar list from Wendy at Kidlutions. And, maybe it will work. Or will be a good starting point.

Sample conversation:

Kid: “I’m bored.”

Parent: “Pick something from the list.”

Kid: “But, I don’t like the list.”

Parent: “So, figure out something else to do.”

Kid walks off, furiously thinking how parents just don’t understand.

. . .

If we can get our kids to be bored, surely we can find some time to be bored ourselves. Wouldn’t that be lovely?


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  1. Is this one of the reasons why Saturday morning cartoons have diminished significantly all because some concerned parent(s) or members of the FCC feel that a multitude(if you will) of cartoons can interfere with parents’ preferences to spend quality time with their kids on the weekend, it may even prevent kids from exercising their imagination or engaging in other activities? Besides in the U.S. there is what is called the Cartoon Network which broadcast cartoons 24/7 while in Canada(my country) we have what is called Teletoon and Teletoon Retro (both English & French versions.) Teletoon Retro,incidentally, broadcasts some cartoons as far back as the ’50s and or ’60s.

    When I was just a kid I only viewed specific or at least the most favorite Saturday morning cartoons and I didn’t particularly like it when I missed some cartoons for swimming lessons (even though it payed off in the long run) and took Tae Kwon Do lessons when I was 9-10 years of age. But since I’m an adult I obviously have found other ways to keep myself occupied on Saturdays.

  2. Great post and a great reminder for all ages – adults need to be bored, too! Our firstborn is only 9 months old but I still think the issue of boredom applies, albeit the expression and management of it is different since he isn’t as independent as an older child. Reading this post, I see that we’re on the right path. From the beginning he’s had some type of ‘independent play’, as a newborn this was 5-10 mins on the blanket or in the bouncer where I could see him but was out of his way. Now he plays in his play yard for 30-45 mins once a day, happy as a clam. I had read that provided too many toys to choose from can be overwhelming so I tried to give him a few at a type to master and rotate them every few days. Right now he just loves containers of any sort. Doesn’t care for the toys inside, just give him the box!

    Lastly, on the topic of TV, I read in Jim Trealese’s (sp?) Read-Aloud Handbook how he and his wife applied the no TV rule during the week when his kids were already in school. It didn’t go over well, obviously, but eventually the kids adjusted. So we decided (and hopefully will stick to it!) to save TV time until after he’s in bed at night. That way, by the time he’s in school it should be normal for him to not watch anything during the week. We’ll see… the best intentions of mice and men, right? 😉 But this has already made a positive impact in my day to day happenings. I get more done during the day and have more quality time with my son, and then in the evening as a family, than I would if the TV was on.

    I’m thrilled to have found this blog. What a great resource!

  3. I couldn’t agree more. My children used to spend way too much time watching television or playing video games, and not enough time outdoors. My husband and I then decided to put our foot down. The kids had to play inside or out for at least two hours for every hour of television they watch. Funny thing is, now we can’t get them inside 🙂

  4. Great article! I totally agree that it wouldn’t take too long to start seeing creative play. If you don’t want to rid of the TV, then perhaps start slow and just use the TV for family movies, but keep it off at other times. This works well for teens also! I have 3 teens and we are 6 months into having no cable. We are challenged some days, but busy most days.