You don’t always need to entertain your kids/grandkids. Boredom causes temporary uncomfortable feelings; it can be good for us in many ways – from stimulating creativity to helping train our concentration.
“I am bored” you may be hearing this from your kid/grandkid a lot more than before. The outbreak certainly has forced us to push our boundaries to find ways to socialise, work, exercise and entertain ourselves as well as our kids.
While in general people hate being bored. So much so that a study revealed, one-quarter of participants said they would rather give themselves a painful shock than be in a room with no external stimulus (music, books, and phones) for 15 minutes. This shows how much people want to escape the feeling of boredom.
A bored person has unpleasant feelings, lacks interest in completing tasks and has problems paying attention. It is an emotional state that is temporary. A bored person has things they can do, they just can’t (or won’t) engage with activities.
What causes boredom?
- Boredom can come from lack of rest and nutrition, lack of mental stimulation or too much repetition (lack of novelty). People with a high sensitivity to reward, meaning those who need constant stimulation to feel satisfied, are more at risk of being bored.
- A person can get bored if a task isn’t stimulating enough, if the work is too hard or too easy and if activities lack meaning and challenge.
- Lack of control can also contribute to boredom. In one study, students showed more boredom when an adult picked their leisure activity than when they were allowed to generate their own.
The current situation may lead to sleepless nights, not enough novelty and a lack of control. While it is easy to turn to electronic devices to entertain and distract when we are bored. However, this shallow engagement with our devices decreases our ability to concentrate, attend to task and find flow.
Why being bored is a good thing?
- Boredom can lead to creativity. Boredom causes more divergent thinking (finding multiple uses for items, making connections between seemingly unrelated ideas and generating multiple creative ideas) after doing a boring task. Creativity emerges because when one is bored, people actively seek something stimulating. Creativity is a challenge that meets this need.
- Being bored also helps train our concentration and attention. Sitting with boredom and solving it is an effective way to train ourselves to concentrate and persevere through hard or monotonous tasks.
- It teaches us to go to different places in our minds when we don’t have external stimulation. In other words, our mind gets a workout. Boredom is good for us and it’s good for your kid/grandkid.
How to kill boredom?
For starters do not feel guilty about keeping everybody entertained. Instead, try the following
- Check the energy level. Hunger and low energy can make everything feel boring. So, fuel up some energy because it isn’t boredom, just lack of energy to engage in an activity
- Right now, a lot may feel out of control so see how you can provide a new day-to-day choice – deciding menu for the day, tweaking the routine with something unusual, basically push your creativity into doing the mundane things differently.
- It’s ok to have a “terrible experience” by trying things the unusual way. This will help develop internal resources (attention, self-regulation, creativity) by having to solve the boredom problem themselves.
- Boredom is a friend and not a foe. Boredom is a signal that indicates change is needed. It helps generate ideas to engage in. Let them be responsible for the choice. Get them to create a boredom box with ideas they can choose from.
- Boredom is just getting over the hard part of getting started. Your kid may not be bored, just not knowing where to start. Help them break a task down and get started.
- Try setting a timer with your family, turn off your devices, and all engage in something meaningful for 20 minutes. Creativity emerges in space. You’ll never know what you could achieve if you keep distracting them.
Boredom is an important part of life and it is inevitable. A bout of boredom is good, it is an opportunity to unplug, daydream and let your creative juices flow. A healthy dose of boredom is highly beneficial. It is good to be bored sometimes.