I let my children get bored. Yes, I do.

bored, children, activities, entertainment

This is not one of my daughters. Trust me, however, when I tell you both of my kids are capable of a similar pose. Pic credit below.

I have come to the conclusion that I’ve always been too keen to keep my children occupied. Over recent months I’ve been following a new and possibly controversial course of action; from time to time I’ve taken a complete back seat and allowed them to get bored.

The result has been staggering. Their interest in arts and crafts, even playing with their own toys, has soared as a result.

Regular readers will know that I have a paranoia about the kids watching too much television. If they watch more than 30 minutes in one go I get fidgety. I’m not so bothered about films, but I’m a firm believer that TV has an adverse effect on children’s creativity.

I’ve therefore always tried to provide the kids with activities to fill their time and keep them away from the small screen. Yes, of course I use the TV strategically, most notably in the evenings when I’m trying to cook dinner, but I dislike seeing them in front of it for protracted periods.

I have noticed that if I turn the TV off and withdraw from the room, I can return a few minutes later to what I call a glorious mess. I may face pleas to put that infernal machine on, or undertake some other pastime, but I will refuse.

I call it a glorious mess because the two kids will almost certainly have developed their own game. They may be in fancy dress or I may be presented with pictures or completed activity sheets that they’ve simply gone and done themselves. I’m more than happy to tidy up after my offspring if they’ve made a mess under these circumstances. I consider it a positive thing.

It’s a slightly bitter pill to swallow if I’m honest. In a bid to do the right thing and keep them occupied, I have to accept that I’ve possibly been following the wrong course of action until now. Oh well, you live and learn.

What do you think? Do you purposefully allow your kids to get bored? Have you done similar and found your children were also inspired?

Pic credit: Sourced from Pixabay.com and reproduced under Creative Commons agreement. Attribution not required and photographer unknown. Links to the various Creative Commons agreements can be found here.

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16 Comments

  1. February 16, 2015 / 9:53 am

    I’m certainly guilty of too much screen time. Would love a post on how you fill the children’s time I seem to lack imagination or maybe the tools to give them some free time!

    • John Adams
      Author
      February 17, 2015 / 6:18 am

      Thanks Hannah. I will consider putting such a post together.

  2. February 16, 2015 / 1:04 pm

    I’m definitely guilty of using the TV as a nanny more than I should, but I completely agree that allowing boredom to fuel children’s creativity can have gratifying results. If I leave the boys to their own devices they will invariably come up with some kind of car-based or role-playing game, and they are often very good at including their little sister in such games too. When they’re not bickering over who has which cat/cushion/object of desire, that is …

    • John Adams
      Author
      February 17, 2015 / 6:17 am

      It’s so easy to reach for the TV controls isn’t it Tim? I’m glad to hear that I’m not alone in recognising the impiortance of letting the kids get a bit bored from time it time.

  3. Niklas
    February 17, 2015 / 12:20 pm

    Thanks for posting this. It’s perfect timing!

    Sometimes it’s too easy to just put the box on, and I always feel guilty! I think allowing them to be bored is a good thing. I certainly need to allow them to be bored more often!

    There was an interesting experiment carried out at Stanford in the 60s and 70s which gives a perfect example of why allowing kids to deal with boredom is a good thing.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_marshmallow_experiment

    Might be a bit of a stretch, but nonetheless interesting. Those that can distract themselves while “bored” have better life outcomes.

    • John Adams
      Author
      February 17, 2015 / 9:29 pm

      I am going to familairise myself with the Stanford research. Thanks for highlighting it.

  4. February 18, 2015 / 9:31 am

    I really agree with you on this one John. I love that my girls can fill their time, find games and activities, actually play with their mountains of toys, make plans for games and crafts and see it through, and then play and argue together to get the plans and play in action. My girls are 10, 8 and 2 and all can do it. On Sat and Sun mornings mine are allowed to have a television/ computer/ screen time glut until we’re all up and about. We have no screen time at all on school days, unless it’s for homework, for my eldest two. I found it was easier to remove it than limit it, and now it’s the norm and they don’t even need it as they fill their evenings with reading, play, homework and clubs like Cubs and the school’s after school activity clubs. Dressing up clothes, felt pens, story books and PVA glue are at the heart of it all!

    • John Adams
      Author
      February 21, 2015 / 6:05 am

      The one time in the evening I do put the TV on is when I’m cooking but otherwise it generally gets left off during the week. In fact I went through pretty much an entire school term last year when it didn’t get put on in the evening at all. Roll on the summer months when I can bundle the kids out into the garden and serve dinner on the picnic bench!

  5. February 18, 2015 / 11:33 am

    Hallelujah John! I have been guilty of being totally hands-off in the past, and have had the impression that I’m being a rubbish mum for doing so. My mum is forever (intentionally or unintentionally) making me feel bad for letting them do their own thing. She is always telling me ‘they need lots of stimulation’. Bulls**t. I remember my brother and I being left to our own devices ALL THE TIME, and we made thebest games. My two are so young, but I really don’t believe that spoon-feeding them entertainment, be it me sitting and colouring with them all day, or the TV, is helpful for their development.

    We live with my in-laws, and I fear that this has beendetrimental to their development, as there is always someone they run to for attention/entertainment when they get bored. My elder son had previously been a genius at entertaining himself, but I do get judged if I seem to be leaving them to their own devices (making a mess, loud noises and general fun).

    That’s my long-winded way of saying that I think you’re absolutely on the right path!

    • John Adams
      Author
      February 21, 2015 / 6:09 am

      Ah yes, living with a large number of adults must add to the mix. Going back to my previous post about growing up in the countryside, my family always bemoaned the amount of time I spent in front of the TV. My memories, however, were of charging around outside and my mother says I barely picked up a pen or pencil before the age of five. There was very little attempt to keep me entertained (interestingly, rather like your kids I lived in an extended family set up when very young but this didn’t mean I got extra attention!).

      Anyway, I will continue to provide activities for kids. I won’t, however, do it too much.

  6. February 19, 2015 / 8:10 am

    May I also applaud this approach. I feel very much the same with screen time and my 2 year old and try not to have TV on during the day if possible. However as her imaginative play is still developing I can’t yet be too hands off. I do imagination and creativity is so important though and giving children the opportunity to be creative (even if they don’t realise it) has to be the way to go

    • John Adams
      Author
      February 21, 2015 / 6:02 am

      Yup, with you all the way on this one. Also, encouraging the children to be active is so so important.

  7. February 21, 2015 / 11:36 pm

    Hi John, new reader here.

    I have never thoughys that this could be a problem.

    Yes, I did heard we have to control whats type of show they watch. Never thoughts using this kind of option that just totally off the TV.

    Good for you John

    • John Adams
      Author
      February 23, 2015 / 5:54 am

      Thanks Shaffizan. It has worked well for us and I will do all I can to keep the TV off.