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Thursday, August 30, 2018

10 Ways That Children Benefit from Boredom and Free Time

Photo by Bernard Yeo (Flickr)

While my girls kept themselves fairly busy this summer, they did experience moments of boredom. The week when all their friends went on vacation and the time we lost electricity during a storm were especially difficult for them. Like most kids, my girls don't always enjoy downtime, but I like it. Free time without constant stimulation, scheduled activities, or devices gives our kids ten benefits that help them learn, grow, and function better in life.

Boredom Stimulates Physical Health

When my girls are overscheduled, they get physically tired, and their risk for illness increases. I have to be careful to include downtime in their schedule every day as we protect their physical health. As a bonus, my kids sleep better when they relax and experience a bit of boredom rather than stimulating activities before bed.

Boredom Protects Mental Health

Our kids might say that being bored causes them to feel stress, anxiety, and depression, but these mental health challenges actually stem from overstimulation. Too much activity can make kids feel overwhelmed, anxious, and unable to cope with everything on their schedule. We protect our kids' mental health when we let them be bored and enjoy free time to relax, unwind, and play.

Boredom Provides Emotional Security

I don't want my girls to need an activity, friend, or device to make them happy or to affirm their worth. Instead, I want them to find happiness, fulfillment, and confidence in themselves. Spending time alone prompts our kids to develop the emotional security they need to navigate peer pressure, friend challenges, and other life situations.

Boredom Encourages Creativity

Give our kids free time and they can imagine, experiment, and dream to their heart's content. And as they play, they develop creativity that helps them innovate and think outside of the box, skills they could use to transform our world.

Boredom Develops Personal Interests

As a kid, I spent many long hours inventing games during my free time. To this day, I remain grateful for those hours of self-directed play because they helped me choose my current career. I definitely want to give my own girls the gift of free time so they can discover their interests, talents, and abilities, too.

Boredom Trains Kids to Patiently Persevere

We want our kids to exercise patience as they wait in line or sit in class, and they must learn to persevere through tough tasks and hardships. Let's train our kids to cope with downtime so they can successfully handle non-stimulating life situations with patience and perseverance.

Boredom Improves Concentration and Focus

A packed schedule that's filled with activities, devices, and action forces our kids to multitask and think about dozens of things at once. That busyness can sabotage their concentration and focus. When it's time to complete a homework assignment, read a book, or take an exam, they may struggle to sit still and think because they're so used to moving, thinking, and doing all at once.

Boredom Equips Kids to Be Kids

I'm all for giving kids access to summer camps, educational classes, and stimulating social adventures, but they're only young once. Kids need time to enjoy childhood, including the freedom of unstructured play.

Boredom Frees Kids to Think

I get some of my best ideas when I'm doing nothing, tinkering, or doodling. Downtime gives our brains the opportunity to reboot and think.

Boredom Teaches Contentment

My girls know we limit our time on electronics, but that rule doesn't stop them from whining and complaining when their time's up. The other day, I realized that downtime and boredom can help my girls learn contentment and how to be satisfied with and grateful for all of their blessings rather than continually wishing they had more.

The next time your kids say that they're bored, resist the urge to fill their time with activities, stimulation, or devices. Boredom and free time give our kids ten benefits that prepare them for success in life. How do your kids benefit from downtime?

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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