You carefully plan your summer to make the best possible use of every weekend and beautiful weekday night. Even though the weeks may be busy with work, the last thing you want is to spend your free time with nothing to do.
The feeling of “boredom” is something we all seek to minimize or outright eliminate. Though it might not sound desirable, boredom actually can provide some interesting benefits.
Why kids can (surprisingly) benefit
Many parents try to keep their kids busy as a way to create structure and keep them out of trouble. However, when a child is separated from electronics or a tightly structured activity they are forced to get creative.
They think outside the box, they get to use their imagination in a way that can be lacking in our “plugged-in” modern world. Daydreaming might be an issue for a child if it happens in a classroom, but during free time, daydreaming can be another powerful method of stretching a child’s imagination.
A study from the Academy of Management Journal published in 2019 compared two groups to see which had more creative ideas – both in quality and quantity. One group sorted a bowl of beans by color while the other completed a craft.
After both groups were finished, they were asked to answer open-ended questions to see who had more creative responses. Researchers deemed the beans group, despite their boring task, to be more creative when it came to answering questions.
A good test area for this may be in your car. Encourage your child to watch out the window for specific colored cars or other objects as a way to give them something to do besides look at a screen.
What about adults?
Adults are not as creative as they used to be. As we age we seem to use our imagination less and as a result, children are often better than adults when it comes to creativity. Part of the problem for adults is the constant stimulation we receive that prevents our minds from ever wandering very far from the task at hand.
Think back to the last time you were in a waiting room – what did you do while you waited? The first instinct for many adults is to look at their phones. The constant stimulation available through our electronics allows us to easily fill our free time. While this version may seem like a positive, it’s damaging our ability to be as creative and imaginative as we could be if we unplugged sometimes.