The Benefits and Dangers of Boredom



This is the time of year where parents start to fret over what to do with their children over the summer. If they’re young enough, summer camps may be the answer. If they’re old enough, specialized camps and jobs are probably the ticket. The question then comes up, “What’s too much or not enough to commit them to?” And what if your child is a tween – too old for camps, but not old enough to go get a job? There are several things to consider.

While boredom is often perceived as a negative experience, it can actually have several benefits for children:


Creativity and Imagination: Boredom can stimulate creativity as it encourages children to explore their surroundings and come up with new ways to entertain themselves. When children are not provided with constant stimulation, they may tap into their imagination to create games, stories, or activities.


Problem-Solving Skills: Boredom can prompt children to seek solutions to alleviate their boredom. This process of finding ways to engage themselves fosters problem-solving skills and encourages independent thinking.


Self-Discovery: When children are left to their own devices during moments of boredom, they have the opportunity to discover their interests and preferences. It allows them to reflect on what activities truly engage and fulfill them.


Emotional Regulation: Boredom can help children learn to manage their emotions. They may experience mild frustration or restlessness initially, but over time, they can develop coping mechanisms and emotional regulation skills.


Patience and Delayed Gratification: In a world filled with instant gratification, experiencing boredom teaches children patience and the ability to delay gratification. This can be a valuable skill in various aspects of life, including academic pursuits and relationships.


Appreciation for Free Time: Constant stimulation can lead to a lack of appreciation for free time. Boredom allows children to recognize and value unstructured time, which is essential for relaxation, reflection, and personal growth.


Independence: Boredom encourages children to be more independent in finding ways to entertain themselves. This independence is an important aspect of personal development and can contribute to self-reliance later in life.


Reduced Stress and Anxiety: Having scheduled and structured activities all the time can contribute to stress and anxiety in children. Boredom provides a break from the hustle and bustle, allowing them to relax and recharge.


Improved Attention Span: Constant exposure to stimuli, such as screens and structured activities, can contribute to a shortened attention span. Boredom provides an opportunity for children to practice sustained attention and focus.


While these benefits highlight the positive aspects of boredom, it’s important to note that excessive boredom or chronic lack of stimulation can have negative effects. Striking a balance between structured activities and unstructured downtime is key to fostering a healthy and well-rounded development in children.

Here are some potential dangers associated with prolonged boredom in kids:


Negative Behavior: Boredom can lead to negative behaviors as children may seek excitement or stimulation in inappropriate ways. This could include engaging in risky activities, breaking rules, or seeking attention through disruptive behavior.


Increased Screen Time: When left unattended, bored children might turn to screens (TV, video games, etc.) as a quick and easy source of entertainment. Excessive screen time can have adverse effects on physical health, mental well-being, and academic performance.


Lack of Motivation: Prolonged boredom may lead to a lack of motivation, hindering a child’s willingness to engage in learning or other constructive activities. This can impact academic performance and personal development.


Social Withdrawal: Boredom may contribute to social withdrawal, as children may find it easier to isolate themselves rather than seek out social interactions. This can impact their social skills and emotional development.


Risk of Depression and Anxiety: Persistent boredom can contribute to feelings of sadness, frustration, and anxiety in children. Lack of stimulation and engagement may lead to a sense of purposelessness, which can affect mental health.


Unhealthy Habits: Boredom can be a contributing factor to the development of unhealthy habits, such as overeating or engaging in substance abuse, as children may turn to these activities to fill the void of boredom.


Stunted Development: Chronic boredom may hinder a child’s cognitive, emotional, and social development. Lack of stimulation and varied experiences during critical developmental stages can have long-term consequences.


It’s important for parents and caregivers to be aware of the signs of chronic boredom in children and to actively engage in providing a balanced and stimulating environment. Encouraging a variety of activities, maintaining a routine that includes both structured and unstructured time, and fostering open communication with children can help mitigate the dangers associated with excessive boredom. It’s all about finding a healthy balance between structured activities and allowing for unstructured, creative, and imaginative play

With summer around the corner, it’s important for parents to weigh the pros and cons. Here are some ideas to try to help keep teens, who are too old for camps but not old enough for a job, busy and productive over the summer.


Plan a Meal: Have each child (if  there’s more than one in the family) decide on a dinner and then prepare it for the family once a week. This will take some planning as it will probably require a trip to the store. If they haven’t cooked before, it will be a good learning experience and life skill to have as well.


Plan a Family Activity: Have each child plan a family activity. This can be a family outing or just an activity to do at home. This will help them use their creativity but also possibly share their passion for an activity that maybe the rest of the family doesn’t know about or doesn’t share their passion.


Plan a Cultural Activity: Take the making a meal or planning a family activity one step further and have one or all children research about a location they’d love to travel to or a culture they’re interested in, come up with a meal from there and include an activity that families or children do as well.


Volunteer: Youth can volunteer as junior counselors or helpers at camps that cater to younger children. If they’re an athlete, they can help out at soccer, football, cheer, basketball, etc. camps. If they enjoy the arts, they can help at music or art camps. This gives them additional life skills such as responsibility, conflict resolution, and being a role model.


Alternative Activities: Check with local churches or the library for summer activities they have planned. There may be volunteer opportunities there as well.


Outschool: Check out It’s a website with a ton of classes covering a variety of topics. It could provide some additional learning over the summer to get a head start on next year, or topics that are just of interest. There is a cost, but it’s fairly reasonable, and transportation isn’t an issue. It could be rewards for making good choices over the summer. There are also online clubs in a safe space for kids to collaborate on Minecraft, art, activities, etc.


Chores: Summer is a great time to increase chores for kids since they most likely don’t have homework. If both parents work, leaving a list for them to choose from works well. These can include cleaning, yard work, laundry, taking the garbage out, walking the dog, etc.


Job: While those under 15-16 usually can’t get a paid job, they can use their entrepreneurial spirit and provide services (to families they already know) such as babysitting or entertaining younger children while their parents work at home; yard work; dog poop clean up; or even volunteering to help out elderly neighbors or single moms.


For additional information on routines, which are important in the summer, visit It has resources based on the child’s age for not only addressing routines, but chores, responsibility, and many other behaviors. n


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