Let Kids Be Bored

Let Kids Be Bored

Every parent hates hearing the dreaded “I’m bored” from their child. A natural instinct might be to fill their schedule, but boredom has many benefits. Emma Seppala, author of The Happiness Track, wrote about bad advice parents give their kids, such as “Stay busy.” She recommends encouraging your child to have fun doing nothing instead.

Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images

In Western countries, people value busyness and excitement, but low-intensity emotions such as calm are just as important. Both East Asia and the West value positive emotions, but people in East Asia place more value on low-intensity emotions that they feel from more mundane activities such as taking a walk. Research has found that older Hong Kong Chinese adults are overall more satisfied with their lives than older European-American adults, and this mindset could be contributing to that.

Excitement can burn kids out, and free time is important for helping build kids’ creativity. Research shows that when we’re calm and not intensely focused, we’re more likely to come up with brilliant ideas.

Plus, balancing all those activities can lead to more stress. Children have been becoming increasingly anxious since the 1950s. By giving them more free time, it helps them better manage stress and relax. Music lessons and sports can be enriching, but it’s also important to give kids time to do nothing. Let them take a moment to stare at clouds and daydream.



  • Jesus no! Boredom in children can lead to depression. This is NOT good advice!

    • Please. Most of the fun I had during my childhood and teenage years was a direct result of being bored / having no scheduled activities during periods like school holidays. Definitely makes one more creative and MUCH more able to enjoy their own company, function without assistance and generally be a more well-balanced human. And yes, I just argued your random anecdote with my own.

      My only real objective to letting kids be bored is that it often results in area of my house being destroyed like an F5 hurricane just came through.

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