Our dear friend and business partner, Kris Laroche, has often been inspired by and inspiring to our parenting. We have traded ideas back and forth, read many of the same books, and been mutually encouraged by each other along the way. One wonderful example is Kris’s fairly recent discovery of Kim John Payne’s book Simplicity Parenting. She shared a number of tips she gleaned from it with us, but the thing she said that struck the most resonant chord with me was allowing children to experience boredom.
I didn’t realize it when she first mentioned the idea, but the more Natalie and I discussed it, the more I realized we do this a lot. After the encouragement from Payne via Kris, we are not just allowing it, but actually looking for the next great opportunity. And I wanted to encourage you to experiment with this idea as well.
When we allow our children to experience a little boredom, we give them the opportunity to create something. When we abstain from filling every second of their day with some exciting activity, lesson, or entertainment, we allow our children to use their powerful minds to invent games, fantasy scenarios, and whole worlds of interactive play. And according Joseph Chilton Pearce, author of The Magical Child (among other important works), it is play which is the single most important activity for any child under seven. Not learning to read, not practicing arithmetic, not watching language videos, or some other Baby Einstein activity — just imaginative play. It is the result of eons of evolving as a species, and it is not only important for proper brain development, it is vital for survival as well.
When we get in the way of imaginative play, as we often do and are encouraged to do by every new pop-psychologist who comes down the line, we interrupt our children’s natural development, inhibit normal brain functioning, and handicap our children’s potential — permanently. However, if we, instead, support our children’s natural drive to play, interact, invent, and create, we offer them opportunities for potent developmental success, the likes of which most of us have never seen, and many of us cannot even imagine.
And the key to allowing imaginative play is — you guessed it — ample opportunities to first experience boredom. If we fill in all those momentary gaps with TV, movies, video games, organized activities, various lessons, and the like, we may avoid hearing our kids say they are bored, but we may just as likely be teaching them that boredom is a curse rather than a blessing. And we are certainly undercutting their opportunities for the best possible evolution of all their potentially amazing faculties. I don’t know about you, but to me that doesn’t sound like a decent trade.
So, from here on out, we are going to be occasionally celebrating the fruits of boredom. And I’ll be sharing with you some of the wonderful things our kids come up with from facing and relishing their moments of (near) boredom. You’ll find the first installment below.
Here you see, not an ordinary set of dominos, but a whole family of children. They all belong to the princess of the land, and have just been given their royal baths, and are currently napping.
This is a backdrop set piece Bella made, so she and Xi could take the princess’s children to the beach.
This is just the beginning of two separate sessions of creating various things with toothpicks and a collection of corks. During one of these sessions they made animals. During another session they made little toys, furniture, and other accoutrements for the Littlest Pet Shop friends with which they were playing.
These play sessions consumed the greatest portion of two separate days, and came solely from the imaginations of the girls, and the opportunity we provided for them to create.
What wonders can your children invent from boredom?
P.S. Just so you know, I have now added a link up there in the Reservoirs so you can find Payne’s wonderful book.