“I’m bored!!” It’s a whining expression that every parent knows all too well. But it’s important to recognise that boredom can actually bring about many unexpected benefits. A 2019 experimental study by Guihyun Park and colleagues showed that boredom can be a gateway to new experiences and creative pursuits for many individuals. Interestingly, this was not the case for all participants; those who tended to be more open to new experiences, and learning new things in general, experienced maximum benefits. With this in mind, don’t underestimate the power of guiding children to try new things whenever the opportunity arises, and encouraging them to push outside of their comfort zone: this could even be considered ‘prep’ for moments of boredom. The more ideas and experiences we are exposed to, the more inspired we are and the easier it is to think up a fun idea or project when boredom strikes.
Other research has pointed out that boredom may in fact be an important state of mind allowing us to pause with an unfulfilling task and instead seek out something more stimulating. Indeed, I definitely think that any moments of ‘down time’ are important resources to embrace in the information-heavy landscape that we all find ourselves in. So next time your child whines “I’m bored!”, don’t always feel pressured to solve the issue, schedule an activity immediately, or fall back on allowing extra screen time. Let that boredom sit for a bit, and just see what they come up with!