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Why Doing Nothing Is Beneficial for Your Child’s Mental Health

girl doing nothing

Photo Credit: Canva

Do you remember when you were a kid and you couldn’t wait for summer vacation? Was it because you were so excited to hang out with your friends, go to the pool or beach, or stay up later? Probably. However, the most accurate reason you were so excited is probably that you got to dabble in a whole lotta nothing. That’s right. Hanging out with your friends is cool and all, but the excitement of not having to do any schoolwork or study for tests is just as liberating.

Doing nothing can be productive and important for kids, says Dr. Hirsh-Pasek, co-author of Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less. Studies have shown that allowing your kids to do nothing instead of involving them in back-to-back activities, is actually better for their brain health. From another parent’s perspective, it may seem like you’re letting your kids be lazy. However, letting your kids have time to chill and hang out is just as beneficial as having them be involved in activities. Doing nothing helps your kids de-stress, allows their minds to be more active, helps your kids slow down, and encourages productivity (in small doses). Life is all about balance. Doing nothing all the time is not healthy for your kids, but neither is keeping them involved in activities all year long.

Doing Nothing Helps Your Kids De-Stress

You know your kid is stressed out when all they want to do is nothing. They just want to hang out, watch a movie, read a book, etc. This is your child’s way of telling you they need to de-stress. They don’t know exactly what de-stressing means, but they do know how to implicitly say they need a break.

De-stressing from school and activities is a great way to clear your child’s mind and help them reset. If your child is constantly on the go or overscheduled, it can be hard for their brain to rest. De-stressing will also help your child to have fewer meltdowns and poor behavior because they will have calmed down due to increased relaxation.

Doing Nothing Allows Your Child’s Mind to Be More Active

Doing nothing allows your child’s mind to be more active. This sounds counterintuitive; however, letting your child do nothing for a period of time will give them time to dive into their thoughts and emotions. If your child is constantly busy, their mind will have very little downtime. It’s essential for kids to have a break from daily activities so they can allow their brains to actually think.

Doing Nothing Helps Your Kids Slow Down

Doing nothing helps your kids slow down because they are specifically stopping whatever it is they’re doing to do nothing. If your child plays sports or is involved in other after-school activities, it can be quite demanding on their physical health. Daily rounds of school, activities, homework, dinner, and finally bed would leave anyone exhausted. If we as adults take time to do nothing, then why can’t our kids?

Doing Nothing Encourages Productivity (in Small Doses)

As counterproductive as doing nothing may seem, it actually encourages productivity if it’s allowed in small doses. Obviously letting your kid sit around and do nothing every day would make them less productive and teach them to be lazy. However, taking a much-needed break from the constant activity would give them time to chill.

Usually, when I’ve done nothing for an hour or so, I start to think of things I could do while I’m not doing anything. This sounds backward, but doing nothing actually helps you get little tasks done that you usually don’t have time for. For example, if your kids are doing nothing, they may get the sudden urge to clean their room or start reading a book. Doing nothing gives your child the headspace they need to do their chores or start new habits.

The gift of doing nothing is something to take seriously, especially for your children. I know you want them to be involved and stay busy, but sometimes, it’s okay to relax, chill or be still. Kids may need a set time to de-stress and allow their minds to wander, especially while they don’t have as many responsibilities as adults do. As we get older, taking time off to do nothing is much harder to come by so it’s important to give your kids that time before they even realize they need it.

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