Have you ever envisioned your little one as the next Monet, Beethoven, Alcott, or Einstein? You may have purchased science kits, scheduled piano lessons, or taken her to the latest art show to inspire her. Even if she doesn’t become one of the literary or science masters, you figure the experiences will brew the creativity needed for any successful career.
When your child insists that she’s bored, you pull out the watercolors, ballet videos, or rocket activity. We all know that we must constantly engage our children to ensure they have the best chance at success.
Recent studies are showing just the opposite. After interviewing many artists, musicians, writers, and scientists, it was found that they didn’t have constant engagement. In fact, they were often left to their own devices. And they got bored. Really bored. They were bored often and for long periods.
And many credit this boredom for their creativity. They experimented more with what they were doing. They learned more about their surroundings. They spoke with and learned from people they might otherwise have not. They tested their ideas, failed, and then tried again. Being bored is what spurred their creativity.
Is that not different from what we usually hear? Many moms feel “mommy guilt” if our little ones are bored. Supernanny, the T.V. guru of parenting, would often shame the parents for not having enough activites for the children. We learn tips and tricks to avoid it, from a rotating schedule to activity-labeled “bored sticks” to choose at the first hit of dullness. When summer arrives and the last school bell rings, we schedule them for camps, swimming lessons, classes, and play-dates so that we never have to hear them utter those dreaded words – “Mom. I’m bored.” And we are told that this is what “good moms” do.
But are we actually doing the kids a disservice?
Are we compromising their potential creativity?
How can we make a conscious switch to get them a little bored (and not feel guilty about it)?
Get tough. We all hate whining. And if you let your kids get bored, especially for hours, you’re going to really hear about it. Be strong. Keep envisioning the creativity that will be born from this whining. Better yet, focus on your own creativity during that time. And resist the urge to give up and hand over the iPad.
Turn off the electronics. During this time, there can’t be any electronics to distract them. That means no phone, no T.V., no iPad, and no Internet. It sounds pretty harsh, but they need to learn how to disconnect to get their creativity blooming, according to studies.
Be a role model. While your kids are bored, be a good example and put away your own phone. If you’re worried about an emergency call, you can look to see who is calling, but don’t check texts and avoid all apps. Twitter and Candy Crush Saga will survive without you for a few hours. And stepping away from your screens may help you to find a creative outlet that you never thought of before. Or maybe you’ll just have time to tackle that quilt that has been sitting in your spare bedroom for months.
Be a little sly. Don’t just announce, “Okay, now it’s your time to get bored! No more electronics!” as you emphatically click off the television. Let whatever activity they are doing naturally end and simply don’t offer another one. When they come to you for suggestions, tell them that you’re catching up on your book (or crocheting or trying to figure out how to fix the toaster. Whatever works for you), and let them either join you or find something for themselves to do. If they do join you, it will be a great way for you two to get creative and connected at the same time!
Be consistent. Twenty minutes of boredom a week won’t give them time to really dig deep and find things to do on their own that interest them. Give them enough time and frequency to get bored enough to use their imagination. The more frequently you step back and give them space, the more they will become comfortable with their own creativity.
It seems that some boredom as a child is a very common trait among the most creative minds in history. Encourage your children’s creativity by encouraging them to step away from their schedules and screens. They will soon find their imagination and creative spirit.
Find out here how to also encourage a child’s love of reading.Photo courtesy of woodleywonderworks on Flickr.com