The massive parenting mistake we are all guilty of making now 4 days ago

The massive parenting mistake we are all guilty of making now

When I was in school, school holidays meant great stretches of time to fill with whatever took out fancy that day.

We played out a lot, just literally went outside in the morning and would return when it got dark or we got hungry.

If we were bored, we just had to think up a new game or knock on someone's door and generally look for our own entertainment. And we would always find it. I never remember feeling bored for long.

Nowadays, however, keeping children from ever feeling bored has become big business. Seriously; there are art camps and cooking classes and children's yoga and tennis lessons and it seems the goal is to literally fill these unstructured summer months (and indeed every other moment of spare time) as much as possible so that our children never have to encounter a single moment of boredom.

The thing is, while this makes us feel maybe that we are winning at parenting, we might, in fact, be doing our kids a huge disservice, and experts are now arguing that over-scheduling children is not only unnecessary but can also ultimately keep them from discovering what truly interests them.

“Your role as a parent is to prepare children to take their place in society. Being an adult means occupying yourself and filling up your leisure time in a way that will make you happy,” explains Lyn Fry, a London-based child psychologist with a focus on education. “If parents spend all their time filling up their child’s spare time, then the child’s never going to learn to do this for themselves.”

What's worse, never allowing our children to feel bored can also seriously damage their imagination.

"Boredom is crucial for developing 'internal stimulus,' which then allows true creativity," senior researcher at the University of East Anglia's School of Education and Lifelong Learning, Dr. Teresa Belton, explains to the BBC. "Children need to have stand-and-stare time, time imagining and pursuing their own thinking processes or assimilating their experiences through play or just observing the world around them."

Fry agrees.

“There’s no problem with being bored,” says Fry. “It’s not a sin, is it? I think children need to learn how to be bored in order to motivate themselves to get things done. Being bored is a way to make children self-reliant.”

What do YOU think of this, parents? Do you allow your kids to be bored or fill up their timetables before boredom gets a chance to set in? Let us know in the comments or tweet us at @Herfamilydotie