Like clockwork, almost as soon as the final school bell of the year rings, parents across the country start hearing this familiar refrain. And naturally, when it crops up in your home, you’ll want to respond with fun activities, trips, and projects to keep your girl happy and her brain humming—or perhaps you’ve even already over scheduled her with a ton of classes and outings—but did you know that a little boredom thrown in the mix can actually be good for your child?
“Giving your girl some unstructured time and encouraging her to learn to entertain herself is incredibly valuable,” says Girl Scouts Developmental Psychologist Andrea Bastiani Archibald, Ph.D. “We live in an all-too stimulating society filled with phones, screens, and other easy distractions to more than fill our time—but filling all our time with those leaves little room for creative thought or imaginative play.”
When your girl feels bored, she’ll want to find an escape from that feeling as soon as possible, as it’s different and uncomfortable. Give her time to fill the void on her own. She might end up inventing a new game, going outside to explore, picking up an interesting book, or even just daydreaming. “Moments of boredom can, in fact, spark innovation,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “And learning to be a self-starter in her youth will help her gain confidence, independence, and leadership skills that will serve her throughout her life.”
So the next time your child complains that she has “nothing to do,” resist the urge to rescue her from her boredom by suggesting a specific activity right away. Instead, challenge her to use her imagination and the world around her to make her own fun. You (and she!) will probably be surprised with what she comes up with.