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Is it okay to let my kids be bored?

Like so much of parenting, the answer lies in moderation.

It is okay to let your kids be bored – but if you want to help them to continue to grow in divergent thinking, creativity, and cognitive functioning, you can’t take a completely hands-off approach. Some periods of boredom are okay, but generally, boredom is not a good thing for their cognition. 

Boredom isn’t always bad – but disengaged parenting, kids with no social or peer support, no leisure activities, no adult-directed activities – isn’t good. 

This summer, when your kids come to you and they are bored take that as your cue to give them some support. Have a list of Boredom Busters – these are a mix of creative ideas, athletic endeavors, and chores or household tasks that always need doing. It will help you to suggest some engaging activities for them to do during their free time. 

Because of that research by Barbot and colleagues (2016), we know that when kids are bored they are actually primed for creativity. So take advantage of that. When they are bored, give them some ideas for engaging in those creative activities rather than just turning to screens to veg out. 

Try to reach a balance between the free-range and helicopter parenting styles, and recognize that this is a balance that every family needs to find and re-discover each summer, because the kids are growing and changing too.

Every summer I admit I struggle to find that balance. Be sure to also try to take care of YOURSELF too. Stay physically active, get your prayer time in each morning or during naps, eat well, and drink a lot of water. Be a good role model of how to spend downtime. Put your phone down and pick up a real book. I know everyone loves audibles and Kindles, but show the kids you know how to read an actual book too – they learn so much by watching you. I have a kid’s book list on my old blog (boy’s list here, girl’s list here), which you can take to the library with you. See what you can find together and have a little family reading time every day. It is usually my favorite family time in the summer!

For more of the research on boredom check out my 15 minute podcast episode on the topic at Parenting Smarts.

Thanks for stopping by!

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