A Little Boredom Is Healthy
When parents plan every moment of their kids' lives, says a nationally-renowned Tufts expert, they may stifle their initiative and imagination.
Medford/Somerville, Mass. [08.30.02] A recent study of parents shows that the majority think their kids need to have a lot of planned activities to fill their spare time. But a Tufts expert says a little boredom can play a big role in children's development and shouldn't be scheduled out of kids' day-to-day lives.
"Being bored pushes children to think on their own and is therefore a key to helping them develop resourcefulness and initiative," Tufts' David Elkind - one of the nation's top experts on child development - told the British Broadcasting Corporation [BBC].
According to the chair of Tufts' department of child development, many parents spend too much time trying to fill every moment of their kids' loved with activities. It's a phenomena that began almost twenty years ago, he says, as parents came under increasing pressure to give their children an advantage by flooding them with information to help them learn - and grow up - faster.
As a result, Elkind says parents have been "hurrying" their children into adulthood. And the negative impact it causes can last well into their adult lives.
"Ultimately, those children may find it more difficult as an adult to organize and manage their time effectively," Elkind, who authored the groundbreaking book "The Hurried Child," told the BBC.
They are also likely to feel more stress.
"Now, more than two decades after the hurrying began, we are getting a truer measure of the cost of acceleration as we look at the threefold increases in stresses among young people," Elkind said in an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Many parents and many schools and much of the media have been hurrying children to grow up fast, but they have also been abandoning teenagers."
Finding time in their hectic lives to think for themselves, he said, has become increasingly more difficult for young people.
"There is simply no protected place for teenagers in today's hurried and hurrying society," Elkind said in the Plain Dealer's article. "The result is a staggering number of teenagers who have not had the adult guidance, direction and support they need to make a healthy transition into adulthood."
What should parents do? Elkind's answer is simple.
"His advice to parents was to worry less - and just let the children play," reported the BBC.
Image courtesy of the St. Petersburg Times.