I Hope My Kids Are Bored This Summer

Giving your kids a chance to be bored is actually a good thing

I am sure I’m not the only parent who has struggled to figure out which camps my child will go to during the summer (both my husband and I work out of the house full time. Camp is a necessity), and how we’ll fill the warm wonderful weekends we have while they’re on a break from school.

More so than during the school year, we seem to feel the need to take advantage of the nice weather while we can and feel like we would be remiss by not making sure we’re out and about as much as possible. Boredom, especially in the summer, is a huge waste of time.

But think about the summers we had growing up. Yes, many of us might have gone to sleep-away camps, but I’d say just as many, if not more, did sporadic bouts of day camps, intermingled with days on our own at home trying to find stuff to do. We were probably bored. Often.

And how many of us would dream of letting our kids be bored now?

According to psychologists, past and present, boredom is actually a gift.

“If parents spend all their time filling up their child’s spare time, then the child’s never going to learn to do this for themselves,” Lyn Fry, a child psychologist in London, with a focus on education, told Quartz.com.

Quartz added “In 1993, psychoanalyst Adam Phillips wrote that the 'capacity to be bored can be a developmental achievement for the child.'"

What? Now we’re talking. You mean to say I can actually aid my children’s achievement by ignoring them and letting them be bored? Keep going...

“It is one of the most oppressive demands of adults that the child should be interested, rather than take time to find what interests him. Boredom is integral to the process of taking one’s time,” added Phillips.

It obviously depends on how old your child is, but Frye suggests, by age 4, children should be able to figure out their own list of things they would like to do that don’t involve other people, like reading a book or playing cards.

I can easily remember multiple hours playing old school solitaire, with a deck of cards on the floor of my room. I spent hours and hours playing that stupid game. Do kids these days even know what solitaire is, beyond the game that comes on every single Windows PC? Even then? Somehow I doubt it.

Why are we so worried about our kids being bored? You can’t actually die of boredom, no matter how many times your bored child tells you differently.

Fry said time bored is not time wasted. “I think children need to learn how to be bored in order to motivate themselves to get things done. Being bored is a way to make children self-reliant,” she said.

I read that quote twice. “Being bored is a way to make children self-reliant.”

When you think about it, when you consider how scheduled our kids usually are, how many opportunities do they really have to figure stuff out for themselves, without relying on other people to keep them occupied?

What’s so wrong with being bored?

This isn’t a slam on filling a summer with family and fun and experiences and memories. Of course, that is important too. It is to say, though, that sometimes, doing nothing at all is in fact, doing something quite valuable too.

Memories are a gift. Experiences are a gift. But enjoying one’s own company and finding ways to pass the time without someone else’s help is a gift too.

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