What are the benefits of boredom

"I'm dying of boredom!" This is how parents should react

Parents sometimes feel like entertainers. But whoever has a permanent offer of entertainment is not only doing himself, but also the children a disservice. Why boredom is good for children.

It's easy to get bored on a rainy day. Do parents have to own the kids now? Image: AleksandarNakic, Getty Images Plus

Imagine: It's Sunday, it's raining or snowing outside, and you finally have time to leaf through all the magazines of the past few weeks or to finish reading the exciting novel. It's nice when the little ones play in their rooms in the meantime.

Experience has shown that the idyll does not last long. The very little ones arrive, wander aimlessly around the living room, are cranky or very clingy. The bigger ones articulate themselves more clearly by saying the magic sentence: "I'm so bored." Many mothers or fathers put books and magazines aside on it and slip into the role of lone entertainer: They make suggestions, pull out toys, try to animate the child to various activities.

Children also have to learn to play independently

It is fundamentally correct that parents respond to the needs of their children. Of course, when the little ones don't know what to do, they expect their parents to help. Often, however, parents overshoot the mark with their employment offers. The children do not learn to play independently because they are used to parents constantly producing ideas and designing programs.

Of course, you can't expect a three-year-old to sit quietly for hours, stacking building blocks. Nor can one expect mothers and fathers to spend an afternoon building towers and restrict the activity of the little one to knocking over. Here it is important to find the right middle ground - and this depends on the age of the child, his temperament, but also on his daily form. On some days children need more attention than on others, when they want to be like the "big ones" and do everything on their own.

Boredom fires the children's imagination. Image: Pixabay

In any case, the following applies: with a round-the-clock animation program you are doing your child a disservice, because boredom also has the purpose of stimulating the child to be creative because it has to counter the void with a wealth of ideas. Any kind of creativity needs this moment of emptiness or even disaffection. The child (and parents) have to learn to endure this boredom. Because if the child is offered an activity program every time he or she can no longer think of anything, he or she will quickly believe that boredom is a problem that others have to solve for you.

Children need both: repetition and change

An important prerequisite for a child to learn to play alone is a stimulating environment that must be safe. A one and a half year old child can spend a quarter of an hour busy themselves with toilet paper, and a three year old can easily 'wash up' for half an hour in the kitchen - but after that the kitchen will be flooded and the detergent used up.

Reading tip!

It is important for children to have toys and objects that allow repetition and change. Repetitions give the child security and they begin to understand the world. Change is needed to satisfy one's curiosity and to understand more complex relationships.

Give small suggestions

But it is also very important that children get attention and feedback from time to time. Even small babies make sure when they grab something that an adult thinks of it. And the bigger ones proudly present their Lego house or the flower they have drawn. The most suitable place to learn to play alone is therefore where there are other family members who can also be busy with something else. At the crucial moment, the child will get their play partner when they need him.

And then the parents should be ready to play along for a while. Sometimes all it takes is a little push from mom or dad, a little suggestion or a new stimulus to make the game exciting again.

That helps against boredom

  • Ready-made toys are boring. It is much easier to play with cloths, vessels, (harmless) kitchen utensils or cardboard boxes.
  • Dressing up is always nice. Instead of putting in the used clothes collection, old shoes or colorful clothes are put in a dressing box.
  • Go outside. Even if the weather does not encourage you to do so, there is always something going on outside and there are a thousand ways to play something.
  • "Help" - that is what most children like to do. Be it in the garden, in the kitchen or while cleaning, the little ones usually join in enthusiastically. Even if they're not really helpful, they have fun and learn a lot.
  • There are even more suggestions here: 77 tips against boredom



Text: Marianne Siegenthaler