When we are children, we rarely think about the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults do. The day we worry about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind, “wrote Patrick Rothfuss. Are we forcing this transition too early on today’s children ?
Letting children get a little bored increases creativity in them
We like to think of childhood as a time to climb trees and make mud pies. The reality for today’s youth, however, is something else entirely. We drag our kids from school to violin, gymnastics, soccer, etc., etc., after which they return home to begin their homework. Summer is a time for piano workshops, robotics workshops, and endless options, instead of lazy beach days.
Summer camp experiences are more likely to focus on math enrichment and college readiness than a heated game of capturing the flag.
So some kids’ routine may be worse than others. For example, in one week include music classes, soccer practice, therapy, religious groups, and other “enrichment activities” and have not even turned three yet.
Kids today have a busy schedule , but aren’t these activities supposed to be good for them? Art class? Karate? Computer camp? Don’t you need to do these things if you want to keep up with our fast paced society?
The surprising answer, say the researchers, is a resounding “no.”
This is not a groundbreaking realization, nor is it a new one. As early as 1993, the psychoanalyst Adam Phillips explained that “the ability to be bored can be a developmental achievement for the child.” He then explained that the process of navigating boredom is an opportunity to contemplate life and create one’s own meaning and philosophy. “It is one of the most oppressive demands of adults that the child should be interested, rather than taking the time to find what interests him. Boredom is an integral part of the process of taking time, “he wrote.
Modern psychologists agree.
Lyn Fry, a London-based educational psychologist for children, might be the one to explain it best. “Your role as a parent,” he said, “is to prepare children to take their place in society.” Being an adult means taking care and filling your leisure time in a way that will make you happy. If parents spend all their time occupying their child’s free time, then the child will never learn to do this by himself. ”
Fry does not defend a total lack of structure and activity. Rather, he suggests helping young children find their own direction.
At the beginning of the summer, Fry suggests that parents help their children create a list of fun activities that they would like to do themselves.
They may want to bake cookies, run through the sprinklers, write and act out their own game, or go “camping” in the backyard. They may have an art project in mind, or they may not. It is important that the list reflects your own interests completely.
Then if the child gets bored, you can encourage them to choose an activity from the list they created themselves. This, Fry explains, gives the child a sense of ownership of how he chooses to spend his own time. In a world where so many adults struggle with time management, isn’t this skill much more valuable than another piano class?
“Summer will soon be over,” wrote George RR Martin, “and childhood too.” As we begin this summer, let’s make a commitment to stop rushing these two treasures. Our children can be better off without it.