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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Should Parents Keep Children Busy All the Time?

            Wise parents will allow their children to be bored from time to time and will strengthen their family, community, and nation by doing so. According to Addison Whitmer, “Studies have shown that boredom may not be the worst things for your child.” Whitmer quotes several experts to prove her statement. 

The Melbourne Child Psychology Service said that dealing with boredom prompts children to find ways to entertain themselves, and come up with clever and entertaining activities to pass the time. This fosters both a creative imagination and strong problem-solving skills, so it is better for a parent to provide their child with resources when they come up with an activity, rather than outright give the child an idea.

Dr. Stephanie Lee, director of the ADHD and Behavior Disorders Center at the Child Mind Institute, also defended boredom. “Life requires us to manage our frustrations and regulate our emotions when things aren’t going our way, and boredom is a great way to teach that skill.”

One study from the Academy of Management explored the effect boredom had on a person’s creativity, by giving two groups a prompt on excuses for being tardy. The difference here? One group had spent their time sorting beans by color before being given the prompt, until the participants were thoroughly bored. The second group had participated in a much more interesting activity before the prompt meeting.

The two groups’ performances were significantly different, as the group who had been subject to the boring task of sorting beans presented more creative answers than the second group, both in quality and quantity.

Experts have said for years that constant mental stimulation inhibits our minds from being able to idle, making it more difficult to brainstorm and reflect. Professor Jonny Smallwood at the University of York spoke to the “Note to Self” podcast. “There’s a close link between originality, novelty and creativity … and these sort[s] of spontaneous thoughts that we generate when our minds are idle,” Smallwood said.

Researcher Sandi Mann at the University of Central Lancashire agreed, saying, “You come up with really great stuff when you don’t have that easy, lazy, junk food diet of the phone to scroll all the time.”

            The above information applies to teenagers as well as children. A Piper Sandler study found that 87% of teens have an iPhone. They spend an average of nine hours on screens each day (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry), and they need about 9 to 9.5 hours of sleep each night (John Hopkins Medicine).

Quartz reports that teens do not discover new interests when they are too much each day. According to Quartz, child psychologist Lyn Fry children who do not experience boredom do not prepare for adulthood when they fill their free time with enjoyable activities. “If parents spend all their time filling up their child’s spare time, then the child’s never going to learn to do this for themselves.”

When parents allow their children to experience boredom and learn to entertain themselves, they are helping them to learn skills needed for happy leisure hours as an adult. In doing so, parents can strengthen their family, community, and nation.

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