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The Lion, the Witch and Boredom

By Peta Germanotta, Occupational Therapist / Exercise Physiologist

“I’m bored!” the dreaded sentence out of a child’s mouth any time of the day. When you were a child if you dared to say this, you’d be presented with a list of chores or be sent to amuse yourself outside. Today with technology, developing expectations and constant access to the world, parents can often feel that they must fill every moment of their child’s time with enriching, fun and exciting activities or be viewed as failing if they don’t succeed. This approach to quell boredom and always be seeking tools to engage the developing brain can actually be impacting behaviours, expectations, self-efficacy, mental and physical development. Boredom should be experienced from an early age so that a child can learn the appropriate skills to manage boredom and engage and respond to the world appropriately. 

Let’s face it we experience boredom in almost everything we do at times. Even the most exciting jobs have their quiet moments, but great things can happen when you’re bored. Boredom allows the unlocking of a door sometimes forgotten, at the back of a wardrobe development awaits. Boredom teaches a child valuable skills to be able to engage and manage themselves in the world around them. Learning to handle boredom can lead to:

  • Development of self: knowing you are enough for fun and don’t need something added, being able to be alone, independent play
  • Building resilience: increasing self-discipline, focus and self-regulation, self-reflection and thought processing
  • Strengthen mental skills: developing imagination, resourcefulness, foster creativity, generation of individuality and own ideas

There is much to be gained by experiencing boredom and parents can feel like they don’t have to stop what they’re doing to ensure their child in engaged in every moment. So, the next time holidays arrive allow some time to hear those two magical words “I’m bored” and watch your child imagine their elaborate fantasy and develop towards their future self.

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