It has become the norm in Southern California for children to be over scheduled and have very little down time and an opportunity to be bored. Childhood experts assert that children need time to be bored so they can develop their innate ability to be creative and reflective.
Children that are constantly active risk the delay developing their imagination and the ability to self-regulate their emotions. Out of boredom children learn to engage parts of their brain in creative development such as inventing new games, writing, daydreaming about their futures or fictional stories, and a host of other positive cognitive experiences.
Researchers have interviewed authors, artists and scientists in exploration of the effects of boredom. Interestingly, they found that some of the most successful scientists, artists, and authors have something in common- very few distractions growing up. The down time from being scheduled and entertained forced these individuals to talk to people, imagine possibilities, to observe the world and questions how things work. It allowed them the gift of creativity and reflection.
Dr. Susan Greenfield, neuroscientist and expert on brain deterioration, suggests that boredom could be an uncomfortable feeling for children and that society has developed an expectation of being constantly occupied and constantly stimulated. When children are stimulated through games, sport activities, television, and parental entertainment, the uncomfortable feeling is kept at distance. However, when down time is presented; children may feel discomfort with their own ability to entertain themselves. When children have nothing to do, they turn on television, video games, or some kind of screen. Where is the time to allow the brain to engage in something not scheduled?
While balanced screen time is not detrimental and in many ways beneficial, Dr. Greenfield asserts that children need time to NOT be entertained, time imagining and pursuing their own thinking processes or assimilating their experiences through play or just observing the world around them.
It is suggested that parents create moments for boredom in their children’s daily routines to allow them to be more creative and to develop emotional intelligence. This holiday season while the kids are home from school, perhaps giving them the gift of boredom is the unexpected present. It doesn’t cost anything and can have lasting positive effects.