Tuesday, February 9, 2010

“I’m Bored”

“Chapter 14: Encourage Boredom in Your Child.” That got my attention. So I read the little book for the two minutes I stood in the bookstore checkout line. “Children who have too many opportunities, choices, scheduled activities, and things to do are often the most susceptible to boredom. The reason is these children are used to being entertained and stimulated virtually every moment of every day.”

I put the book down and resisted the impulse purchase. Over the next several days the idea of encouraging boredom in our children kept coming back to me. We are not responsible to provide constant entertainment for our children. In fact, if we were to accept the premise that a child needs constant entertainment, what message are we sending about life?

By Wednesday I could no longer resist. I drove to the bookstore on the way home and bought Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff with Your Family by Richard Carlson. It was no longer an impulse purchase, so I felt OK. And I had been thinking a lot about the place of entertainment in children’s lives. Perhaps TV Turn-Off Week got me started.

What is the author’s response to the (usually desperate) statement, “I’m bored!”?

“It’s good for you to be bored once in a while.”

Carlson’s not suggesting that we not take an active, loving interest in our children’s activities. “What I’m referring to here is a response to overstimulation—when you know in your heart that your kids have plenty of things to do and that their boredom is coming from them, not from a lack of possibilities.”

This response encourages creativity in kids because it expects them to find something to do on their own. It also sends the message that it’s OK not to have something to do every minute of every day. Perhaps this will help our children slow down the pace of their lives just a little. That would be a gift.


  1. I LOVE this! I've been preaching it for years, probably due to the fact that my father drilled it into my head from birth that "boredom is the sign of a weak mind."

  2. Invariably, as soon as I stop paying attention to a "needy/clingy" student in the classroom, they'll find some beautiful and inspiring work. It never fails, and I wish the parents could see that...

  3. Thanks for your comments from the classroom. I was away at a conference last weekend, and am just getting back to the blog. Parents are intrigued by this message. Maybe you'd like to steer them towards that little book.