Kids being bored prepares them for adulthood, says U.K. education expert

Children should learn to enjoy "quiet reflection" instead of constantly having their days filled with activities, said a British education expert. Robert MacPherson/AFP/Getty Images

The author of a piece entitled "It's time to be bored," argues that parents must allow time to their children for "quiet reflection" instead of constantly trying to fill their child's days with activities.

Parents "tend to get trapped into really trying hard to do the best for their children, for all the right reasons, nurture them in every way, and it's exhausting for everyone," Julie Robinson, Education and Training Director of the Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS), told CBS News in a telephone interview from the U.K.

Robinson, whose piece appeared Wednesday in Attain, the IAPS magazine, said, "If you're ambitious for your child, and you really want the best for him or her, I think you need to ask yourself from time-to-time, 'Am I in danger of trying to re-live my own childhood,' through your child and not let yourself become too inward looking." 

Robinson believes that learning to be bored is part of preparing for adulthood, and parents should not be afraid "to have a night off, really."

"When you end up spending the entire time in a traffic jam being stressed, going from music to sport and then off to something else, and it's all a rush, that's such a shame because I think it builds negative associations with the activity," said Robinson.

Robinson also says there can be a reverse effect to pushing your child to do too much.

"Some children who are pushed so hard, they get to a certain age and rebel. It's a shame if all that time and energy leads to a big breakdown in the family," said Robinson.

"You would be better off doing less and spend taking more time around those things," she added.

Robinson, a former teacher and parent of a teenager, also believes parents need to let their children experience failure as part of growing up.

"There's nothing worse than your own child in tears and you want to protect them, you don't want them to suffer, of course you don't - but if a parent steps back, he or she will realize that actually disappointment is part of life and something to learn to cope with and talk through," said Robinson.

And although Robinson agrees that too much screen time is bad for children, she says, "There's a difference between lying on the couch just watching cartoons and sitting with your child watching the news or a specific program and talking about it whilst it's on. I think that's really valuable."

However, Robinson told CBS News that at the end of the day, parents must not forget that, "there's an enormous value in quiet family time, spending time together doing a bit of cooking or just sitting."

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    Jessica Hartogs is a news editor for CBSNews.com. You can find her on Twitter: @jessicahartogs

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