Allow children to be bored?

Are we over-entertaining our kids?

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Allow children to be bored?

By Sarah Holt

'Children are 'over-entertained' and risk losing their imagination', according to one of the UK's most popular broadcasters, Jeremy Vine.

Vine's comments were made during a talk at the Henley Literature Festival and reported on in the UK's national press.

In his speech he said: "A lot of the time in my childhood, there wasn't much happening. My parents had one record player and one record, so it just kept playing.

"Then that creates a lot of space, and in the space you've got to use your imagination.

"Boredom is good, boredom fires the imagination. If you over-schedule people and you tell them too much and they've got too many screens on, it pushes them back into themselves."

Vine's comments come just a few months after The Telegraph ran an article with the headline 'Why this doctor thinks your child should be bored on holiday'.

The piece saw Dr Holan Liang expressing the virtues of leaving children to their own devices during the school holidays.

Dr Liang said: "The experience of boredom, though aversive, can have a positive flip side: it can be a motivator for people to find something goal-focused to do for themselves (scientists like to call this behavioural activation).

"Parents shouldn’t present a fully-formed solution; children should be encouraged to generate ideas of their own and coping mechanisms of their own to kill time. This will be a lifelong skill, as many aspects of life can be remarkably dull."

Liang's opinion is one that is popular with psychologists. In 2012, Psychology Today ran an article by Michael Ungar PHD entitled Let Kids be Bored (Occasionally).

In the article, Ungar said: Children who experience a lack of programmed activity are given an opportunity to demonstrate creativity, problem solving, and to develop motivational skills that may help them later in life. Are we really doing our children a service by removing quiet, unstructured time from their lives?"

In 2016, Child In the City published an article that summed up the psychological arguments for allowing children to experience boredom. Listed benefits included the fostering of creativity, self identity and emotional stability.

Despite this, countless websites exist that give parents ideas on how to entertain their children. Search engines are crammed with articles like 29 ways to entertain your kids, and How to keep the kids entertained.

So who's way is the right way? Should you leave your children to it, or schedule their fun time?

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Why boredom is good for children - Thinking Parenting

Boredom is good for children because it stimulates curiosity and fires the imagination. At its best, boredom is a creative state that leads to new ideas and new play. And we know that good quality play drives children's development and builds intelligence.

But boredom is good for children only when it results in children using their imagination to rise to the challenge of boredom. If they always turn on the TV or reach for tech as an easy chewing-gum boredom filler, then that spark of imagination is lost.

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