Self-direction is an invaluable skill. In our emerging future where education and work are being redefined, the ability to self motivate and think independently will become necessary skills for success.
Our children’s greatest skills will be self-motivation, self instigated investigation and research, and creative thinking. Because we have immediate access to vast amounts of information, they no longer need to be taught what to think, but how to think. And boredom is the first step in creating these skills.
In our fast paced world, we barely have enough time to do the things we need to do let alone have time to stop and get bored. Our children have school, sport, after school activities, homework and once that is all done, there are iPods, Wii’s, Xbox’s, good old fashioned television and their toys to keep them occupied.
We are naturally predisposed to fill an empty space with something. A silence is filled with words, a canvas filled with paint, but a blank period of time can be filled with anything at all.
By allowing children the space and, well, boredom to spark their imaginations, to give them time to think, and come up with something to do that is entirely undirected by an adult or a schedule will help them to develop invaluable internal stimulus.
Universities are moving off campus and into the ether. You can study anywhere, anytime and as the technological revolution removes the need for overly structured and prescriptive systems that ensure measurable output, having the confidence to think creatively and problem solve without direction becomes vital.
So next time your child declares “I’m bored!” Consider it a good thing, and don’t immediately feel it is a problem for you to solve. It is a problem for them to solve.
Leave your child to choose their own activities, don’t tell them what to do, and don’t suggest a range of possibilities. Tell them they can do whatever they feel like doing. Including doing nothing. And importantly, go and do something yourself. Read a book, garden, fold the clothes, sit and think – be occupied in something yourself.
Is constant activity a good thing or are we robbing our children of boredom? The sooner children discover their own ways of filling in the blanks, the more self-directed they will become.
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