Boredom is an unknown state for Generation Z, since the day they were born. Thanks to technology, and all the entertainment that comes with it, kids today have no clue how to cope in the state of boredom. Our culture, obsessed with stuffing our schedules with a million-and-one things to do, has created a new normal: constant engagement.
Living at home with family (and no friends!) in a global pandemic may be the first time Gen Z has ever faced boredom! They're missing out on the benefits of boredom.
Pre-pandemic, most families were uber busy. Maybe “over-busy.” Kids’ schedules were jam-packed with activities and sports, music lessons and tutors. Parents rushed around doing carpool, running errands, and managing homes while maintaining full-time jobs. There’s barely a moment to breathe, let alone be idle or bored.
Boredom is a lack of stimulation.
There are often unpleasant feelings that come along with it.
When faced with boredom, most people get very uncomfortable. They're motivated to find something to do, quickly! They find it difficult being under-stimulated, and can become antsy, jittery, and even panicked.
Some kids will not suffer too much if bored, however. Introverted kids may actually enjoy moments of quiet and the lack of programmed activity. In peaceful time, they can recharge emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Extroverted kids, on the other hand, may need support navigating periods of no programming. They’ll want encouragement to try new things such as skill development, writing, music, and crafts. Extroverted children and teens may respond to hooks from parents and teachers, such as, perform / share the fruits of your boredom with an audience at a later time. (Create a video and share it with the family at day’s end.)
Children and teens who whine to their parents, “I’m bored,” will trigger helicopter parents to save the day with distractions, and solutions to the foreign unpleasantness of boredom!
Parents: DON’T swoop in to save the day!
Leave kids to wallow in the state of boredom. This experience is a necessary for personal growth. With practice, kids may learn to relish and thrive in this state.
Benefits of Boredom?
During quiet, unstructured periods of time, kids and teens can develop important personal life skills:
a sense of autonomy (ability to work on their own, and make meaningful choices in their lives);
intrinsic motivation (motivation that builds from within, not influenced by outside factors such as rewards);
problem-solving (kids pursue solutions and take responsibility for their own lives);
creativity (developing imagination, original ideas and inventiveness);
facing challenges and testing abilities / skills outside of their own comfort zone.
Children will benefit by learning how to self-direct their activities, and lives.
Book chunks of quiet, unstructured time, and encourage opportunities for your children to grow without supervision and interference in daily life.
Suggestions to get started include:
During school closures and indefinite period of stay-at-home orders from our leaders, there will be many opportunities to get used to the state of boredom.
Go with it!