Source: Catherine Cachia / Courtsey’s Photography
Parents are rightly concerned about the time children spent alone during the pandemic, isolated from their friends and away from their busy schedules.
However, there is a significant and lasting benefit to the time parents spend alone, regardless of how many children they have that they want to understand and nurture, once school and post-school activities are back in full swing.
Especially with parents with one child, the alarm bells went off unnecessarily because the barriers dragged on. They felt like they had to be their younger only child’s playmate or make sure their older only child was busy. It found that most of the kids were only at an advantage and did well during the pandemic. One reason for this was that they were used to having time alone and could fill it up themselves.
“I have nothing to do”
Is there a parent who never heard a child say, “I have nothing to do” or “I’m bored”? Parents, myself included, tend to rush in or feel like they should find something for their child.
It turns out that boredom – that space in which your thoughts can wander – is more than desirable. In her book Bored and Brilliant: How Distance Can Unleash Your Most Productive and Creative Self, Manoush Zomorodi, creator of the WNYC podcast “Note to Self”, makes the point that “Boredom is indeed a critical tool in our lives to make people happier, more productive and more creative. “
Zomorodi spoke to Dr. Jonathan Smallwood, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of York in England, who told her, “There is a very deep connection between originality and creativity and the spontaneous thoughts we generate when our minds are idle when we are not with them interact with others or immerse themselves in a goal-specific task or project. “
Michele Borba, EdD, points out in her book Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Some Children Fight And Others Shine, The Benefits Of Children Not Being Always Busy. It adds sanity to who parents are today and to the stress we put our children under with too high expectations and too much competitiveness. With schedules this tight, kids eat in the backseat of the car while parents take them to the next game or class.
Before the pandemic, most children had little downtime. Dr. Borba asks parents to make room on their children’s day, to be idle, to do nothing, possibly to be bored, and establishes the connection between boredom, leisure and creativity. According to Dr. Borba’s creativity and cousin’s curiosity is one of the seven strengths a child needs to thrive. Without wanting to, parents leave little or no time by over-planning and micromanaging their children’s lives for this creativity to flourish.
“Parents can make a big difference in the character and future success of their children when they help them develop mindsets that are open to curiosity and the ability to imagine, create and invent ideas,” she says. In other words, she explains, “When they are alone to explore and fill their time, they develop curiosity, creative problem solving, and deviant thinking that helps them thrive. Children need some solitude and the time to dream, play and imagine. “
Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the hugely successful “Hamilton” and other extraordinary stage and film projects, attributes much of his success to being alone as a child. During an interview with GQ journalist Michael Hainey, he said: “Time alone is the gift of self-entertainment – and that is the script of creativity. Because there is nothing better to stimulate creativity than a blank page or an empty bedroom. “Lin-Manuel’s Key to Parenthood,” A Little Less Parenthood “.
Periods of loneliness and the time to play promote the creativity and curiosity of the children ”, emphasizes Dr. Borba. For younger children who may need a parent to get started, she recommends several different types of boxes filled with items that you think might get your child’s attention, such as paper towels. B. a Meryl Streep box with hats, scarves and old towels for cloaks. a Frank Lloyd Wright box of hammer nails, wood, and sandpaper; or a Leonardo da Vinci box with empty rolls of paper towels, sticks, paper clips … If your child doesn’t seem interested, put together another box. Open toys or consumables such as building blocks, paints, crayons and paper, for example balls of wool, do not require the “right way” or “right answers” and let the imagination run wild.
Although older children seem to be tied to technology, it takes time for them to get away from their devices. Even the late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, once endorsed this, saying, “I am a firm believer in boredom. … All the [technology] Things are wonderful, but having nothing to do can also be wonderful. “Jobs told Wired Magazine writer Steven Levy that he was nostalgic for the long, boring summers of his youth, which fueled his curiosity because” curiosity is all. “
Creativity is so important in our fast-paced and, as we know from the pandemic, unpredictable world. As we are slowly returning to any semblance of normalcy, avoid the fast-moving train that so many children rode before the pandemic. Children cannot be entirely curious and creative when they are constantly being brought from one activity to the next.
When we “re-enter” after our isolation from COVID-19, consider what activities and commitments can be scaled back to give your children some solitude and free time they need. Who knows what your child will discover on their own and what fun they will have? Or, as Dr. Borba said to me, “If you want to raise creative, curious children, leave them alone.” Yes, let them get bored.
Copyright @ 2021 by Susan Newman