Last week, I started thinking about children’s boredom after realising I don’t think I’ve felt bored for at least ten years. I’ve started a few discussions on this and feel pretty alone in my thinking that boredom is a good thing. I’m not saying in huge doses but some is good. Otherwise, what is going to happen to our children?
I watch all of us on the bus tapping and talking away incessantly. Our need for endless stimulation coupled with our incredibly busy lives is going completely over the top. Even if we fight these pressures and try to adopt a slower pace, I think these days we often fail. And therefore, if our children become used to constant stimulation at a young age, plus they grow up having technology ON all the time, which is encouraging them to communicate all the time … what hope do they have of living calm relaxing lives? There’s a chance the next generation rebels and today’s toddlers won’t be sitting on the phone tapping away – but I think that’s unlikely.
And funnily enough, whilst I was making breakfast last week, I heard this same topic on Radio 4′s Thought For The Day. I’m not sure what this says about me these days but I found an ally there. The person was discussing this with the summer holidays in mind. Do we really need to find things for our children to do all the time? Of course, we’re not talking about childcare if you’re working. This is about ‘activities’. He remembered his childhood and feels that the good side of boredom is that it encourages children to develop new games, use their imagination, play in new ways. And we know that can only be positive for their development. But also – can you remember the satisfaction when you had come up with a new game and had spent endless hours of fun on something you created? That is the discovery of a sense of satisfaction which I want my daughter to experience.
So of course, there’s a bit of me that feels bad. I mean – I have not forgotten those endless summer holidays when I felt I must be in the most boring spot in the world. And those long car journeys, yuck. No, I don’t want her to actually experience that. But, I do want her to have nothing to do once in a while, say ‘mummy I’m bored’ and then dig deep into her imagination, with no computer, TV or phone. I definitely don’t want her feeling harassed by endless to do lists and too busy to enjoy her life.