Tag Archive for: imagination

By Natasha Goodge, MSW, LSW – February 1, 2024

“I’m bored,” 5-year old Julian often says.  

As a mother, social worker, and let’s face it, a people pleaser, my initial reaction to this and other complaints is to try to fix them. I offer suggestions, provide distractions, or simply hand over my smart phone.  

For some children and adults, boredom can feel uncomfortable and result in feeling anxious. Boredom is disengagement, and disengagement from your environment feels vulnerable and dysregulating. Chronic boredom can even lead to depression and anxiety.  

Chronic boredom, however, is very different from the initial, superficial level of boredom experienced when standing in line or waiting for the next episode of our new favorite show. These days, this initial dip into monotony is easily avoided by checking our email or with a quick scroll through our favorite social media pages. This avoidance of boredom, however, may mean a loss of opportunity for connection, innovation, and creativity. 

Boredom can make children feel restless and frustrated, but it can also lead to the discovery of new interests and meaningful activities. When children engage in play that is undirected and unmanufactured, the creative part of their brain is stimulated. They can develop creative skills that stay with them for life.

For example, a child may start playing keys on the piano and then picking out a tune, which may spark an interest in taking piano lessons. They may observe grandma working on a knitted hat and ask to learn to knit. Younger children may search the house for sheets and blankets to build a fort to play in.  

Being bored can be especially good for children by helping them develop planning strategies, problem-solving skills, flexibility, and creativity. It also helps kids build tolerance for the inevitable, not-so-fun experiences, such as long car rides and adult dinner conversations. Being bored together offers opportunities for your child to observe their surroundings more closely, practice mindfulness, self-reflect, or to develop and practice interpersonal communication skills and share about themselves. Once, in an especially long line for pizza, my son explained in detail his complicated feelings about his classmates.  

“You can’t teach creativity,” writes psychologist Peter Gray, “All you can do is let it blossom.”  Now when my son tells me he is bored, I say, “That’s great honey!”

By Ellen Dippel, MSW, December 3, 2018 –

Technology gives us access to information at the speed of light and communication with others in an instant.  People can order their groceries, do all of their banking, and even take a college-level class – all with just a smart phone.

There is an application for virtually anything and everything on a smart phone.  These applications can help increase productivity and efficiency for both parents and students, give access to games for children, and serve as a tool to share ideas across the world.

Technology has helped the world greatly advance, but are these technological advancements also hindering creativity and imagination?

Technology such as television, tablets, and video games are becoming more and more popular for young children and teens. Screen time includes time spent on phones, televisions, tablets, and other electronic devices.

Children and adults alike can waste hours scrolling through phones and playing games without even realizing it. Unfortunately, spending time in front of a screen is becoming a go-to activity.

It is suggested that children younger than 18 months have no screen time, and no child should have more than two hours of screen time per day.

Screen time is replacing the development of creativity and imagination in children and adolescents.

Much of a child’s imagination and creativity is expressed through play, which develops problem-solving and critical thinking skills.  Children are able to come up with alternative ways of doing things when they explore the world through play-time activities.

There are many activities that parents can encourage to help promote creative and imaginative play, including the following:

  1. Spending time outdoors offers children the opportunity to discover and explore the world around them. Nature supplies many natural toys, tools, and canvases such as rocks, sticks, mud, and sand. Children can also participate in sports activities as a healthy alternative to screen time.
  2. Art activities encourage children to express themselves through a variety of media. Clay, paint, and other artistic media require concentration to develop. Creating a work of art gives the child a sense of accomplishment after making a unique creation.
  3. Role play different situations with your child. Encourage your child to play house, teacher, doctor, store, etc. Role play can help your child learn and develop verbal and social skills.
  4. Limit screen time for your child. Screen time does not require any real physical or mental strength. Limiting screen time encourages children to participate in creative or imaginative play activity that stretches their mind and body.

Encourage your child to develop their imagination and creativity through play. Monitor their screen time and set a good example by limiting your own screen time. Play with them and have conversations with them. Children and adults alike can benefit from enjoying other activities that engage the mind and body.