Family Magazine

Creativity, Boredom and Having Nothing to Do

By Maliasa


“Mum, I am bored, I have nothing to do!”

We have developed a society where it is expected that we are constantly engaged and children should be stimulated and learning new skills during their every waking moment. Teresa Belton suggests that it is good for children to be bored. Boredom will help children to develop their innate ability to be creative.

Is being bored the same having nothing to do?

Boredom is what happens when you have nothing to do and you let that actually bother you. Boredom could be an uncomfortable feeling and it might be the fact that a child is allowed to have no planned activities that nurtures her creativity rather than being frustrated and bored. Freedom to spend time the way you like to may motivate a child to try new activities and daydream. Children who have not been allowed time to watch the rain play on the window  may get bored when they have no planned activities. And this may in itself not encourage them to explore the world in a creative way.

Often studies that suggest that it is good for children to be bored uses examples from artist and writers who turned their boredom into creative expressions as a proof for the suggestion that being bored is good for children. These people turned to creative expressions since they found that it was a simulating way to fill their time. Children today, are used to being stimulated and they turn to TV and computers when they have nothing to do. Thus, a bored child may ask for suggestions and become angry and upset when they cannot find anything to do. Supporting a bored child and encouraging them to find activities and things to do is a more fruitful approach than saying that it does not hurt to have nothing to do. If a child has a planned schedule, they have no experience of finding activities that they like doing.

Ways to encourage having nothing to do.

  • No television.
  • No video games

Boredom may be a creative state for an adult artist who has learnt to explore the boredom by writing or painting. Yet a young child may need time to get used to the idea of having nothing to do and the choice of making their own choices. It is often not practical and safe to let a child choose what they want to do. Playing and roaming around in nature might be an antidote to boredom but not all children live in such an area where it is possible or safe for them to run around not inhibited by adults’ warnings of dangers. So providing them with materials and choices may help them to avoid being bored and instead using the state of having nothing to do to engage in creative expressions.

Being creative is often described as lonely process, but children can be creative with other children. Listening to your inner voice is important but creativity and creative thinking can also be a group activity. During adolescence, it is perhaps a better approach to encourage young people to engage in creative activities together with other adolescent as compared to providing them with them to spend reflecting themselves.

So a having nothing to do plan is beneficial. With some support, you will see thinking, imagining, daydreaming, and action happen. Gently getting children used to having nothing to do, may spark their creative side more than the frustration of being forced to be bored.

Photo: “Two Children” by marin

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