How to help your child with boredom

“I’m bored.” If you gave me a nickel for every time you heard someone say this, I would acquire quite a nice sum of money. Speaking of money, according to the article “The Surprising Benefits of Boredom,” written by Dr. Neel Burton for psychologytoday.com, in 2016 the entertainment industry topped $2 trillion. That’s a lot of money spent solely on entertainment.

I spoke with Annabella Martinson, an eighth-grader at Bothwell Middle School, about what she thinks about boredom. Hers was an opinion not unlike many of those of my other peers. She told me that when she really has nothing to do, boredom makes her more creative, and she has really good ideas. She does add to that, though, by saying that she doesn’t like being bored when she’s supposed to be taking a test in school or waiting for a class to be over because she just has no choice but to sit there and do absolutely nothing.

I also spoke with Dr. Cameron Wilcox, who works as a psychiatrist at UP Health System-Marquette. He said boredom doesn’t always have to be a negative state of being. He believes it can be a pathway to creativity. He thinks it can also encourage people to try new things.

Wilcox offered useful advice for parents with frequently bored children. He suggests that if your child complains about being bored too often, it is important to check that they are not feeling that way because they are sad. These are two emotions people do not often think of as related.

Wilcox added a personal note about boredom and creativity by saying that he has seen his own children, when bored, eventually take up a new activity in order to keep occupied.

When I spoke with Katy Divine, a Marquette resident and mother of two, she told me that she believes boredom definitely fosters creativity. She thinks letting the brain mull over ideas is a great way to see where your thoughts will take you. Although, she also thinks the most interesting people are never actually bored because they are content with their own thoughts.

Boredom — so many complex meanings come from this word. What can parents do to see that their child is developing a strong, creative mind? How can you make sure that your child is not being over stimulated? Wilcox had a few helpful suggestions for parents. He said that when dealing with a child that is bored, a parent could do a number of things. They can encourage a child with a variety of options of things to do. They can also let the child figure out their own way to find something that they can do to keep busy.

Wilcox thinks that the second way is a good way to teach a child to be creative and also to come up with solutions to problems.

If you’re not sure what would be best for your own child, just experiment. Try noticing how they react to different things; see what kinds of suggestions spark their creativity. Each and every mind is unique in its own thinking process, so sometimes, the best thing you can do for your child is to get to know them a little better.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Anna Rayhorn, 13, is a seventh-grade student at Bothwell Middle School. She enjoys reading, running and participates on a cross country team.