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  • Markus Hunt

Boredom as a Vehicle for Creativity

On a road trip, somewhere in the USA, sometime this summer. Child: Are we there yet? Adult: Yes, but I thought we'd keep driving anyway.

Summer is full of expectations and with expectations comes disappointments. Very few things in life can live up to one's own imagination. And if each summer starts with excitement, inevitably there will come a time when special activities have ended and school has yet to begin and your child may come to you and say "I'm bored." The best answer to this developmentally predictable yet chafing question is some version of "So?"


Creativity grows in the moments when nothing is ready made. Boredom may incite spontaneous reading, building a found art sculpture or making a paper bag puppet. In truth, Boredom is one of the greatest gifts of childhood. And a little disappointment and frustration is a small price to pay for growing the capacities of the mind. As a psychologist colleague once shared with me, "For children, disappointment should start at home, where somebody loves them." So if you're disappointing your children, you're doing it right— just kidding.


The lesson, if there is one, is to give children the time and space to sit with their own thoughts— without electronic devices— and discover what is possible in the deepest recesses of Boredom. Perhaps best of all, Boredom is mostly free. The cost is having to listen to your child complain before you finally send him off to figure it out for himself.

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