Less is More: Why Do Children Get Bored and How to Foster Creativity
Have you ever noticed that the more toys your child has, the more often you hear "I'm bored!" or "I have nothing to play with!"? We as parents want to give the best for our kids to make them happy. We tend to think that the more things we will have, the easier and better it will be. But sometimes it ends up with a huge number of toys bought or given as presents. And then we realize that we have our kids in front of their many toys, yet not even one is chosen. Do you know why it is so?
Scientifically it's called "Choice Paralysis" or "Analysis Paralysis", which is a process where people have difficulties making a decision when faced with many options. By overanalysing or overthinking a situation again and again people can become "paralysed", meaning that no solution or action is made at all.
Basically, when we have more choices, we make worse decisions. What we need to realize is that our brain can get stuck when presented with too many options. Every day they must filter and process lots of information. But brains have their limits. So, when there is too much to choose from, it might choose nothing. Therefore, offering less choice actually enables us to make better decisions.
And that's particularly important for children, who are still developing and who need to work on their creativity. If grown-ups often find themselves standing in front of too many types of breakfast cereal at the shopping mall, not able to choose one, just imagine how hard it is to a child?
Play time is an important part of childhood, it is an important part of kid’s development. By playing child’s imagination and creativity evolves, which can help to become a more successful, independent and confident person. Creativity can boost the ability to solve different kind of situations and problems when we’re grown-ups.
One of the main principles of Montessori education is to provide only those toys, which provide room for creativity. Those are toys that inspire the mind, not command or control it. All you need is a few sets that can be used all together. There have been studies, which conclude that kids who play with fewer toys not only play for a longer time, but also have “higher quality” play - they play in a greater variety of ways with the limited number of toys.
So, what can you do to help to foster creativity? You can sort out your existing toys. If you have many toys, you can hide part of them or make a rotation, by offering few of them time after time. Toys which won’t be seen for a while also can create the same overwhelming excitement as a new toy or can bring up sweet memories for the child by hearing: “Look! Remember this? This is my ..!”
If you’re looking for new toys, you can consider choosing open-ended toys, which can boost your kid’s creativity, imagination and fine motor skills. And you can always consider of choosing more environmentally friendly toys from natural, local materials with possibly small environmental footprint to take care of our planet.
With less choices we can become happier and more confident. When we’re given too much choice, we’re also much less happy with the final choice we make. It’s because we’re still wondering if we made the right decision instead of being happy with the one we did choose. We believe that with less, kids become also more grateful for what they have, and each toy can become even more special. By offering less choice or limiting choices you will make better decisions all around. And this works not only for the kids, for us (grown-ups) as well!
Just for inspiration, here are just a few people who were raised with Montessori methods and most likely with less toys:
- Larry Page and Sergey Brin – founders of Google
- Jeff Bezos – founder of Amazon.com
- Bill Gates – founder of Microsoft.
Let's foster creativity together!
References & inspiration:
- Photo by @sophiewarran, 2020.
- KeepitUsable.com, The Psychology of choice: Why less is more, 2020.
- ScienceofPeople.com, How To Overcome Choice Paralysis By Giving Yourself Fewer Choices, 2020.
- Wikipedia, Analysis paralysis, 2020.
- Wikipedia, The Paradox of Choice, 2019
- J.Anderson. Less is More: New research suggests playing with fewer toys is good for kids, 2018.