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Is boredom good for us?

School’s out for Summer!!  Who doesn’t remember that feeling of being a kid (and for those of us older folks - the famous Alice Cooper song!) - those seemingly endless days ahead with no books, no homework, no teachers, nothing but great weather, and long days filled with fun!  


Fast forward a few days and if no structured activities have been carefully planned and executed for every waking moment, the dreaded whine of “I’m bored” is heard throughout the house.  If you listen carefully, you can hear the deep collective sighs of parents who believe it is their parental duty to make certain their progeny are never ever bored!  

Kids laughing during a fun after-school program

(Kids laughing and creating fun pictures during a Knuckleball Comedy after-school program)


So imagine my surprise to find an article this week in a major newspaper titled “Let Kids Get Bored.  It’s Good for Them.”  As it turns out, while kids certainly do benefit from structured activities during those long hot days of summer (maybe a day camp that offers comedy improv with Knuckleball Comedy?), they also need time for self discovery, even if that arises out of a feeling of boredom.  


As a psychologist noted, boredom is normal, natural and healthy, and in moderate doses it can offer valuable learning opportunities, spurring creativity and problem solving and motivating children to seek out activities that feel meaningful to them.  Parents shouldn’t guard their kids from ever feeling bored, any more than they can guard them from ever feeling sad, frustrated or angry.  


For example, the Dr. noted, if you let your kids loose in the backyard, they may feel bored initially, but they can learn to prevent that feeling, or resolve it, by finding activities that are meaningful to them, whether that’s counting bugs, playing with a ball or drawing with sidewalk chalk.  In this way children may discover their innate love of nature, sports or art, or even the pleasure they can find in simply relaxing or indulging in fantasy play.  


Getting kids off the phones and back to more simple play can be challenging.  Of course, If they’ve taken some social-emotional learning (SEL) with Knuckleball Comedy, learning the basics of improvisation, performance and other interactive play, they’ll be better prepared to find creative outlets when that feeling of boredom strikes.


So this gets me thinking about adults.  Many of us would say we’re never bored.  Then again, how often do we aimlessly scroll through our phones, sometimes even in the middle of a conversation with someone - in person!  Is that an outlet for boredom even if we don’t recognize it as such?  


Maybe we should all take a time out from our phones and see what happens?  I might just write another blog! 


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