Why boredom isn’t such a bad thing

COMMENT: Carrier sends out a strong message to the world

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Remember when you were a young child and life was carefree? Those days when you weren’t bothered about any problems that cropped up around you.

There was no job to think about, no bills to pay and simply no responsibility. Well actually thinking back to when I was a child, there was one thing that caused me a slight amount of distress and I can see history is repeating itself with my two daughters.

When I was small, like most children, the only thing that would create worry in my young mind was boredom.

You are left with nothing in particular to do and your surroundings could easily be described at that moment in time as the doldrums.

When I was a young boy I would regularly annoy my mum and dad by using those two words that when put together would put them right on the spot. ‘I’m bored’ I would declare.

I would look at them expectantly, waiting for them to solve my one and only problem in life with a list of ideas that were high in entertainment value for my eager mind.

Sometimes they would offer up something for me to do, but understandably sometimes they wouldn’t.

Being a dad to two children I’ve learnt that it’s just not possible to keep children entertained all the time.

Now I have my children expecting the same sort of response from me when they declare they are bored.

I know how my parents must have felt. It really does put you on the spot feeling like you need to take their mind out of this state of stagnation and give them some instant entertainment.

That’s especially true now three- year-old Caitlin is at nursery where for her five-hour session her mind is constantly kept busy.

Whether she’s singing along to nursery rhymes with her friends, getting mucky with paint or having go after go on the slide, there is no chance of her getting bored.

This is great but that means the pressure is now on to make her time at home just as stimulating.

Well that’s what I thought, but apparently boredom is not such a bad thing for a child.

I’ve always thought that boredom in a child can lead to mischief but an Oxford University professor has claimed that bored children, if left to their own devices, are much more likely to pick up a book or write a story.

Apparently, unstructured time will give them a chance to be creative and use their own minds to relieve their boredom.

But I do fear that when Caitlin declares that she is bored and I respond with ‘no you’re being creative’, I’ll get a blank face looking back at me.