Parenting 101: Why children should be allowed to get bored

Is boredom good for our kids?

As parents we seem to be addicted to organising every spare minute of our children’s lives but as it turns out downtime might be just as important.

In today’s world, where we’re surrounded by new technology and hundreds of indoor and outdoor activities to keep our kids entertained, parents spend huge time and energy trying to prevent the dreaded words – “I’m bored”.

But are we doing more harm than good?

Research commissioned by the Commonwealth Bank shows that parents across New South Wales alone forked out a staggering $121 million to keep their kids busy over the summer holidays.

Add that to the fact that almost all Aussie teenagers and two-thirds of primary school-aged children have their own mobile screen-based devices and it seems we’re doing a good job of filling almost every hour of our kids waking days.

Giuliett Moran, psychologist and co-founder of Empowering Parents, is one of many psychologists who believe children desperately need downtime.

“I think we live in an environment today where our kids are very over-structured, there’s a lot of stimulation, there’s a lot of screen time, and they’re constantly bombarded by it,” she told House of Wellness presenter Jo Stanley.

“So when that’s gone and they don’t have it in front of them, they often feel bored.”

Many experts believe that while parents see boredom as a sign of failure or wasted potential, it actually forces a child to think outside the box and more importantly to think for themselves. This in turn can also make them more independent, resourceful and imaginative.

“It’s really important for them to have downtime during the week, where there is nothing on,” Giuliett advises. “You’ll find when you give kids an opportunity to just play, you can learn from what they choose to do.

“Some kids will be drawn more towards art and crafts and some will want to be outside, it gives you an insight into each individual child.”

As Jo discovered by talking to Giuliett and parents, if every second is accounted for, it’s difficult for children to find out what they enjoy for themselves.

“Psychology today tells us that when we allow ourselves to be bored we’re far more creative,” Jo says. “When we leave our kids to their own devices it engages their creativity, it allows them to daydream and I think we can see they are anything but bored.”

Catch up on the full episode of The House of Wellness TV show to see more from Zoe, Ed, and the team.

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