Let the kids embrace boredom

Let the kids embrace boredom

We live in a world that never pauses, as we breathlessly jump from one task to another, one activity to another, one goal to another. We have somehow believed that a busy life is a successful life and that a happy life is based on doing this or that. Constantly. Ceaselessly. Endlessly and eternally. 

Boredom has no place in our lives anymore. As a matter of fact, it is a sin to be bored and reprehensible to give in to boredom or admit to it. If you wish for a prosperous life, buckle up and do, do, do. It is curious how a generation that grew up playing on the streets with the neighbour kids, being bored and inventing games not only has renounced boredom but has also convinced their children that boredom is bad.

Parents nowadays translate the children’s boredom as their failure to offer good parenting. Every weekend of the family is well planned; it includes visits to museums or galleries, theme parks, activity centres, day trips, playdates, and the list of “fun and interesting” activities goes on endlessly with the aspiration of preventing their kids from getting bored. Every afternoon after school is well curated with numerous and diverse extra-curricular activities until the evening when the exhausted child will go to sleep to prepare for another busy day.

The teachers are expected to entertain the students. Each day at school has to be a fabulous day full of amusing projects, where the children do not cease to smile and enjoy every minute of school life. Learning has to be fun, fun, fun, and in the case of a bored child, complaints are in place for bad and indifferent teaching. Well, sorry to break it to you, but teachers are not entertainers or clowns. Teachers teach and are in charge of quality teaching, and the school can sometimes be tedious, challenging, and laborious. Just like life.

Life is not unicorns and rainbows all the time. Far from it, life is also demanding, tough and, to a great extent, boring. You will have to make your own fun. You will have to make it enjoyable for yourself. Not someone else. You. And when we try to be cool parents by entertaining our children twenty-four-seven, we actually conceal them from the real world by offering a distorted picture of it as a perpetually fun place to live in. 

When a child yells “I’m bored”, they might as well be hungry, curious about their parents’ doings or seeking attention. Let the children be bored! You cannot imagine how valuable and necessary boredom is. Offer your child free time to do nothing and applaud their boredom. 

Boredom offers them the irreplaceable opportunity to dream, use their imagination and let it go wild, try out ideas, get excited and discover their skills and interests. Boredom helps them be independent and build their confidence and resilience. It allows them to develop problem-solving skills, organisational skills, and planning strategies when they come up with projects or games; it fosters creativity and holds them responsible for their own happiness. Boredom allows the kids to reflect on their own practices and behaviours, evaluate situations and feelings, regroup and plan future steps. 

“Boredom is the dream bird that hatches the egg of experience. A rustling in the leaves drives him away”, as the philosopher Walter Benjamin has so accurately stated. It is not the boredom but what we do with it that proves its essentiality in our life. 

8 thoughts on “Let the kids embrace boredom”

  1. Hello Ioanna,
    our English teacher selected this essay to illustrate our boredom-based class.
    It was the second time she did it.
    Great minds think alike!
    All the best

    1. Hi Isabelle,
      This is one of my favourite essays and a subject that isn’t widely and openly discussed. It pleases me greatly to hear that this topic provided some food for thought to you and your course-mates!

  2. Hi Isabelle,

    Many thanks for sharing this insight with us! I agree with you that boredom creates space for discovering new or hidden talents and motivates people to try out new things and leave their comfort zone. Nowadays, there is a parent-guilt around this topic; we cannot stand the idea of our children being bored as we translated into personal failure to make the kids happy. But we tend to forget that happiness and creativity exists greatly within the boredom realms!

  3. Dear Ioanna,

    thank you for this theme which takes place in every generation.
    When I was teenager I spent a lot of time at home in week ends and in holidays.
    I didn’t know what to do and each time I began to be bored, I wanted to meet my friends and we found any idea: cycling, creating a knitting club….It was completely out of parents’ proposal.

    In parallel a friend of mine was extremely bored as teenager when she lived in the country with nobody in the surrounding area.
    So she used to read a lot of books by herself.

    Our 6-year old granddaughter escapes from her boredom in inventing an imaginary story.
    Trust them!

  4. Sophie,

    Thank you for sharing with us this insight! I have to say, “good for her and her kids”! Boredom is such a misunderstood feeling, which people tend to perceive as a negative and unwanted state of mind. On the contrary, boredom can offer plenty of opportunities for self-exploration and creativity. Let alone for our kids that are used to live in a world full of stimuli.

  5. Chère Ioanna,
    Ma soeur qui a eu 4 enfants leur disait quand ils se plaignaient de s’ennuyer : comme ca tombe bien, pendant que tu t’ennuies, tu grandis!! Je trouvais ça génial et imparable.

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