If I told you there was a type of play that would encourage imagination, creativity, develop problem solving skills, build confidence, improve mental health and enable children to build valuable relationships, I’m sure you’d be all ears; well guess what… positive boredom does just this!
I know, I sound insane; how could not doing anything result in so much? Well let me explain.
I’m Ellie, a mum of two boys. One of whom has always had the stability of childcare and entertainment on tap, being the first, and compared to the second born who at times has ‘just had to get on with it.’ The differences in them are vast. One wakes up every morning and asks me what we’re doing - he likes routine and planned activities in abundance. The other clearly doesn’t give a hoot and is happiest left to his own devices to roam the garden and tinker.
One learnt to free play at the age of 3 years. The other at 12 months. You can probably guess which is which.
Giving children the opportunity to do nothing, zilch, zero, in turn gives them the opportunity to do everything. It allows children the opportunity to build their sense of discovery & curiosity through being encouraged to find ways to amuse themselves. This teaches their little souls valuable life skills. Positive boredom aids in building a child’s confidence. When they have the opportunity to occupy themselves and they do so successfully, it boosts their self-esteem. Let’s face it; as adults when we have free time we try new things. This helps us grow, develops our confidence, builds our problem-solving skills when things don’t go to plan and improves our mental health when we have time to just ‘be’. Why would it be any different for children?
We’re caught up in a society that often needs instant gratification. Boredom is seen as a negative and children don’t have enough opportunities for child led play. Remember back to your childhood, do you think about the materialistic things or the connections, giggles and the great outdoors? We’re all guilty of wanting to give our kiddies the world, but sometimes we’re getting in the way of a simple contented life. After all, a stick can be a wand, a guitar, a horse, a telescope, a microphone, a fishing rod or a treasure finder. It’s all in their imaginations… let their minds wander free.
Author credit: Ellie Harris