Remember when you wished the weekend would last forever? Typically by this time of the summer, the eagerness for some “time off” has lost its spark. Children’s boredom is growing day by day and will likely continue. The rising monotony of each day brings about an increase in technology use to keep them occupied. What they should be doing, however, is embracing the boredom and allowing their creative juices to flow.
Sensation Seeking with Boredom
When we are bored, we are more likely to engage in “sensation seeking.” A study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology states that boredom causes us to look for activities to stimulate the reward centers of the brain. Since using devices increases dopamine, the neural connections for this increase, and our brains crave it more and more. The ability to let our minds wander is diminished and any moment that lacks stimulation makes us uncomfortable. And, unfortunately, our children are learning to satisfy these unpleasant feelings with technology.
As Bertrand Russell, a British philosopher, said “We are less bored than our ancestors were, but we are more afraid of boredom.” However, when we try to rid ourselves of every moment of boredom, we close off our ability to think on a deeper level. Boredom breeds creativity and when children can fulfill the stimulation they are seeking by allowing themselves to “space out,” associative thinking is engaged. Sooner or later, they will create a new game, find different uses for items, or be inspired to find a new skill.
Take Breaks for Boredom
By enforcing an amount of boredom daily, children not only tap into creativity, but they also give their brains an opportunity to rest and reset. When the brain is relaxed, mental clutter diminishes, and new possibilities are abounding. A sense of curiosity presents itself and children learn problem solving skills by a need to fulfill idle time. Their confidence is then built because they are taking chances with new experiences and goals. By allowing children the time to explore new things, parents help them learn life skills that will stick with them when things go back to normal.
Be the Role Model
To support children even more, parents can be role models by resisting the urge to pick up a device during every moment of down time. Parents can also take the opportunity to implement Parent SKILLZ techniques and information. By putting down devices, parents can be more attuned to their child’s curiosities and prompt them to try new things. Doing so in a way that is fun and fosters new interests can also enhance the parent and child connection.
The summer slump and ensuing boredom are real difficulties that all families face during the summer break. Creating a plan for children that allows space in their routine for “boredom” will promote curiosity. Remember, as Robert M. Pirsig said, “Boredom always proceeds a period of great creativity.” Learning to “space out” again and avoiding the constant use of technology will create a more relaxed mind and cultivate a more inquisitive approach to life.
Written by Jennifer Salama of Skillz Worldwide. Jennifer is a 4th-degree black belt and has been training in martial arts since 2001. She has a Masters Degree in Child Psychology and has embraced the SKILLZ curriculum because of its focus on child development and using martial arts as a vehicle to develop the child as a whole.
Adapted and updated by Katie Gentry. Katie is the CEO of Southwest Arkansas Taekwondo, a SKILLZ Lifetime Gold studio in Hope, Arkansas. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt and has been teaching Taekwondo since 2012. Katie has a passion for empowering others to overcome obstacles and see the best in themselves. Through SKILLZ Worldwide, she has studied, trained, and implemented knowledge and strategies for how to help children thrive physically, emotionally, socially, and intellectually, backed by experience and psychology.