3 Ways to Foster Creativity through Boredom

Melissa shares her views on why it’s not only important – but necessary - to let your kids be BORED!

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“Parents sometimes think that hearing their child say, ‘I’m bored’ is a sign they haven’t tried hard enough to keep their child busy or entertained. But the truth is that when children are BORED, they have the OPPORTUNITY to use their minds in creative, captivating, and inventive ways. This is precisely how IMAGINATION is born. . .

With that in mind, here’s 3 easy tips for fostering imagination and creativity in your child by LETTING them be bored:

1. Create blocks of “free time” for your child to get bored.

While scheduling free time may sound like an oxymoron, it’s often necessary with today’s crazy-busy families. However well-intended it may be, rushing from one scheduled, adult-led activity to the next can stifle a child’s ability to think creatively and to be an effective problem-solver later in life. Having some free time to sort things out and think things through is just as important to your child’s cognitive development as participating in extracurricular activities. Children need unstructured time for their minds to wander and to engage in creative thinking. So slow down, block-out some time to “chill out” this summer, and let your child’s mind and body decompress for a while all on its own.

 2. Resist the urge to placate with technology.

Parents are working harder than ever. You’re tired. That’s understandable. But when your kids start to become edgy or bored, try not to pacify them with technology. Technology may be a quick-and-easy fix since children can immediately download an app on a Kindle, play a game on an iPad, or tune out with a DVD. But realize that it’s your job as a parent to create some space for boredom to occur. Children may whine or complain as they battle the quiet void and believe they aren’t capable of filling it without an electronic device to distract them. But you know better. Calmly assure your child they have the all skills they need to entertain themselves — WITHOUT technology — if they just try. Then give them a chance to prove it to you!

3. Actively nurture your child’s imagination — Then step away.

While creativity and imagination are inherent in all children, they can lay dormant unless they’re nurtured from a very young age. Parents and grandparents need to create the space and time for these important skills to grow. Like any skill, guided practice by an adult may be needed at first. But then children should have time alone — with little more than their young and fertile imaginations — to get lost in their own world of make-believe. Through such exercises in independence, adults prepare children with necessary life skills like problem-solving, tenacity, and self-directedness. These are the very skills of tomorrow’s scientists and entrepreneurs. You can walk away with confidence, knowing that by letting your child “cure” their own boredom, you’re planting seeds for success!

Our goal at Melissa & Doug is to develop products that encourage children to tap into their creative side and help their “thinking muscles” grow and develop. Our instruction guides often provide extension activities or alternative ways to play with a toy or game. Such suggestions encourage children to flex their mental muscles and think outside of the box so they can experience the JOY and EXCITEMENT of seeing their creative-thinking powers grow.

So what are you waiting for? Give your child the GIFT of BOREDOM today!”

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