child sitting on a toki mats play couch

Why Boredom is Good for Your Child

January 19, 2024

They say necessity is the mother of invention, but boredom is the mother of creativity. Boredom gets a bad rap (because, honestly, who enjoys it?), but there are actually plenty of benefits to being bored. And, just like adults, children get bored too. Even young babies will quickly tire of a toy and begin crying for Mom or Dad to come pick them up, and as they get older and learn to talk, “I’m bored” becomes an oft-repeated phrase. As a parent, it can be exhausting trying to keep your little one constantly entertained—especially when there are things around the house that need to get done. So, instead of turning to screen time or abandoning your task at hand, let them be bored once in a while!

For the most part, children live a highly structured life. Their daily and weekly routines have to be consistent when parents need to go to work and they need to go to daycare or school. When babies stick to a predictable schedule, they sleep better, and children also feel more comfortable in their environment when they follow a daily schedule. Boredom gives little ones a chance to take a pause and have some unstructured time, which offers an opportunity for creativity. So much of your child’s day is planned for them, from the clothes they wear (unless you have a budding fashionista on your hands!), the food they eat, and the places they go. When they’re bored, they have to learn how to manage that boredom and are motivated to seek out activities that feel meaningful to them.

child playing next to toki mats play couch

Although kids are naturally creative from a young age, they need to be given the chance to develop that creativity. Playing with your child is a wonderful way to bond and teach them important skills, but you may find yourself unconsciously leading play instead of letting them direct it. Child-led play builds confidence, develops problem-solving skills, and boosts independence, setting foundational blocks for success later in life. You can create an optimal environment in your child’s bedroom or playroom for independent play by making it a comfortable, inviting space. Place a soft play mat on the floor by their play kitchen kitchen, dollhouse, or any other open-ended toys. Depending on their age and interests, you can also set out materials like cardboard, paper, and markers. When they’re feeling bored, direct them to that space and see what their imagination leads them to!

Boredom also gives your child a much-needed opportunity to relax their mind and body. Everyone—-even a child—-needs a mental break every now and then with some uninterrupted quiet time. Create a calming corner or a reading nook with books, a child-size couch, or soft bean bag, where your child can rest and let their mind wander. While boredom isn’t distressing, it certainly isn’t fun, so your little one may feel uncomfortable sitting with that boredom. This in itself is a valuable skill to be learned. Life presents many frustrating situations in which they will not only need to regulate their emotions and learn to cope, but to also problem-solve, and dealing with boredom teaches both.

Allowing unstructured time takes the burden of constantly finding new ways to entertain your child off your already-full plate and gives them the opportunity to discover. That’s not to say that you should always leave your little one to their own devices. Both parent-child play and quality family time are essential to a healthy childhood, and giving your child too much unstructured time can backfire when they confuse wanting your attention with boredom. Whenever you can, you should continue to spend time with your little one in meaningful ways. But, the next time you’re tempted to hand over your tablet or phone to soothe your child’s boredom, consider letting them just be.

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Why Boredom is Good for Your Child

About the Author: Alice

Alice Mendoza is a copywriter and blog writer based in Los Angeles. She began writing for a baby brand while on maternity leave, and realized she had found her niche. Today, she writes exclusively within the baby space, using her BFA in Creative Writing and her own experience as a mother to guide her. When she’s not working, you can find her chasing down her toddler, going on walks around the neighborhood, or watching reality TV.

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