Why Boredom Makes Kids More Successful
Boredom gets kids to use their imaginations.
Everyone reading this article is familiar with boredom. It can gnaw at you and stretch out each minute of the clock. It makes you want to leave wherever you are and go someplace else ― anyplace else.
Of course, it’s natural for parents to want to reduce their kids’ boredom. We might let them turn on a TV or a computer as soon as they become restless. Maybe we often buy them new toys, or we schedule one after-school activity after another.
However, here’s another way of looking at tedium. Hunger gets kids to eat. Fatigue gets kids to sleep. And boredom gets kids to use their imaginations! In order to entertain themselves, kids WILL unlock their creative juices and see the world in a new light. What is important to note is that down the road, the ability to engage in free thinking can lead to works of art, inventions and breakthroughs in science.
Studying Boredom is Fascinating
Scientific research backs up this favorable view of being bored. In 2013, Dr. Sandi Mann, a psychologist at the University of Central Lancashire in Great Britain, released the results of a boredom study. Its participants were asked to devise inventive ways to use two foam cups. Mann discovered that people who’d just spent time copying numbers from a phone book came up with more original ideas than their non-bored counterparts.
Mann believes that the subconscious mind might explain these imaginative leaps. When the study’s subjects were copying phone book pages, their conscious minds began searching their subconscious minds for stimulation. In the subconscious, innovative thinking takes place.
What’s more, plenty of anecdotal evidence supports a link between being bored and being creative. In fact, Dr. Teresa Belton, an education researcher at the University of East Anglia, interviewed scientists and artists to find out how childhood boredom affected their lives and careers. Many felt that boredom was key to their later success.
Overstimulation Isn’t the Answer
A child’s mind that’s constantly being amused by apps, video games and social media posts has no need to entertain itself. And as with any other muscle of the body, a brain that’s not regularly and vigorously exercised doesn’t grow to its full potential. Think about it another way, parents will invest significant sums of money into sports, music, art and other activities to improve their child’s skill set and prepare them for the future. But, to develop creativity and critical thinking skills, kids don’t need anything but unplanned time with “nothing to do.” Even better, there is no cost!
Psychology professor John D. Eastwood and a group of researchers at Toronto’s York University have been studying boredom for years. Eastwood concluded that when children immediately turn to a movie or a similar form of stimulation when they feel bored, they soon become bored much more easily. Furthermore, their powers of concentration begin to weaken.
For those reasons, it’s important for kids to engage in activities that stimulate creativity and aid cognitive development. Open-ended arts and crafts are great examples. When children work on drawings, paintings and decorative objects, they improve their fine motor skills, develop their spatial awareness and boost their problem-solving abilities. Also, simply playing with friends is one of the best ways to boost creative thinking and have fun!
So, the next time your child complains that he or she is bored, send them outside. Or hand them a pad of paper and a box of crayons or even a bunch of random objects and glue or tape. You’ll be amazed at what they can do when they are bored. Let’s hear it for boredom!!