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The Importance of Boredom, and How it Can Inspire Brilliance

The Importance of Boredom, and How it Can Inspire Brilliance

Boredom has the potential to inspire brilliance, and we’re going to use this blog post to explain why. Read on to find out why boredom is important and how it can help your child develop.

‘Mum, I’m bored!’ Pretty much every parent on the planet will have heard this line.


Kids require constant sources of entertainment and will almost always turn to you for it. Although they are inclined towards feelings of joy, enthusiasm and excitement, they have an equal tendency to feel bored. 


But, this is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that boredom actually has a lot of significant benefits. 


Boredom has the potential to inspire brilliance, and we’re going to use this blog post to explain why. Read on to find out why boredom is important and how it can help your child develop. 


Recent research into understanding boredom

A recent study was undertaken to identify what happens to our mind when we are bored and how the feeling of boredom changes our approach to tasks. The study, entitled Why boredom might not be a bad thing, after all, was the work of multiple authors, including Guihyun Park, from the Australian National University. 


The researchers’ aim was to, in essence, find out more about boredom: 


“Boredom is likely one of the most prevalent, yet least understood, emotions. It is easy to find examples of how boredom can engender other negative emotional states that often lead to somewhat negative—albeit unintended—outcomes (e.g., risky or delinquent behaviours). But does boredom invariably lead to negative consequences?”


The ability of boredom to increase creativity was one of the main focuses of the study. 


The researchers used three studies - each one analysing boredom differently to assess its creative potential. 


For those of you who are interested, this is how they did it: 


The three experimental studies were separate, but the findings were related and presented in conjunction.


Two creativity tasks were used. 


In Study 1, “participants engaged in an idea-generation task in which they generated excuses for being late for work.” 


In Study 2, “we further tested whether our boredom manipulation distinctively elicited boredom and not other activating negative emotions, such as anger and frustration. 


In Study 3, “participants were instructed to come up with creative ideas related to a product for pets.”


The results of Study 1 were that “boredom helped boost individual productivity on an idea-generation task.”


The results of Study 2 were that “the boredom manipulation only increased boredom and not other negative activating emotions (i.e., anger and frustration), thus highlighting boredom’s unique effect on creativity.” 


The results of Study 3 “...offer an empirical basis and theoretical motivation for viewing boredom as a variety-driving emotion that motivates individuals to engage in novelty-seeking responses—i.e., engaging in different, often unusual, ways of doing things that are unlike typical or predictable responses.”


The researchers then went on to use these results to offer advice to organisations and businesses to help generate more positive responses amongst their workforce. 


Applying these findings to our parenting


What we found so interesting about this study was how our cultural attitudes towards boredom have made us almost fearful of it. It’s an almost entirely unresearched emotion - as the strength of feelings like joy and anger have received a lot of academic attention. In contrast, the monotony of boredom makes it a regularly forgotten emotion. 


This dismissal of boredom is commonly seen at home, too. All too often, as parents, the idea that our child is bored is something that we feel as though we need to fix. It either irritates us and causes an argument or makes us feel guilty and leads us to quickly find an activity to engage them again.


But this study shows us that this should not have to be the case. 


We need to remember that our kids are brave, creative and imaginative and that they don’t need us to unlock these personal achievements. Rather than constantly mollycoddling them, we can better help our children to flourish by allowing them to be independent. 


We explored the benefits of independent play in one of our other blog posts and discussed the opportunity that this form of play has to enhance their imagination. Even though kids may initially feel bored if they’re left on their own, they will soon find a way to amuse themselves. Then, the game that they create out of this initial boredom is far more likely to be creative, imaginative and engaging. 


What’s more, they must develop the skill to occupy themselves, which will serve them well throughout their later life. 


Boredom inspires creativity, and so leaving a child to play independently (even if they complain that they are bored) has the opportunity to bring with it several fantastic benefits. 


Our top tips for healthy boredom 


 So, to help you utilise your child’s boredom to inspire brilliance, we’ve listed 5 top takeaway tips: 


Don’t be afraid of boredom. Don’t feel guilty or stressed if your child complains of boredom. Simply embrace it. You can find out more about this by reading our blog post When parents’ fears have the potential to restrict childrens’ play.


Strike a balance. Find the right balance between independent and shared play. Both are good in their own way, so it’s good to provide your child with both forms of activity.  


Be positive. Help your child by speaking about independent play in positive terms. Frame the activity in an exciting and fun way, and your child is far more likely to see it that way. 


Head outside. The great outdoors is the perfect way to help children use their creativity to independently fix feelings of boredom. 


Choose creative toys. Invest in toys that help shape the imagination without providing an apparent activity for the child to engage in. 


We’ve used the findings of this study to see parenting through a new lens and not see boredom as something that we need to react to. 


If you’re looking for an outdoor feature that strikes the right balance between providing entertainment and stimulating creativity, our range of garden furnishings is the perfect solution. 


With a piece of Mini beee garden furniture, your child can bolster their independence by developing their ability to cure boredom with creative play. 


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