Therapist explains why boredom is good for kids

As we head into the final stretch of summer, it’s hard not to feel a little bored.

Jody Baumstein, LCSW, a licensed therapist with Children’s Health Care of Atlanta’s Strong4Life program says that’s okay.

"Boredom on its own is not a problem; it’s actually really, really helpful," Baumstein says. "It’s just a matter of what we do with it."

A lot of kids, Baumstein says, are already over scheduled and overextended.

"Sometimes we think the best approach is to stay as busy as possible, but we know that there are downsides to that," she explains. "So, there is a sweet spot. We don’t need to be over scheduled and over committed. We also don’t want kids to just sit around and do nothing. And so it really is all about how we approach boredom."

Having downtime, Baumstein says, gives kids a chance to learn how to tolerate different feelings, and being bored may be uncomfortable at first, because it’s new.  But resist the urge to "fix" that feeling.

"When they come to us, and they say, ‘I’m bored,’ if we just fill the space for them, they don’t know what to do with that boredom," she says.  "So, we need to teach them, and give them a chance to figure out what it means to fill that space with creative and productive things."

Boredom can be a chance to help kids start to tune in to what their body needs.

If they need exercise, she says, encourage them to think about what they want to do.

"Maybe they create a game outside or they just fill the space by doing something active, like going for a walk," Baumstein says. "And maybe their body is needing rest because they’ve been running around so far throughout the summer and are tired. So, maybe they fill their boredom by reading a book or just sitting and listening to music."

The next time your kid tells you they’re bored, Baumstein says, let them sort it out.

"Boredom comes with benefits," she says.