"To keep the creative juices flowing, we all need occasional free time to do absolutely nothing. This is particularly true for children. When kids don't get the opportunity for unstructured play and exploration, they don't learn to explore their own thoughts and dreams. Not only will they lack self-understanding, but they will not develop the necessary skills for self-entertainment and as a result will never be really comfortable alone.

"Some parents, in an effort to give their children every advantage, fill up all free time with organized activities. While activities are wonderful for teaching kids skills and how to work with others, too much of a good thing will work against a child in the long run. Why we do this comes, in part, from a Puritan heritage that frowns on idleness and in part from the dangers our modern world presents.

"Whereas children of past generations could safely wander into some nearby woods and fields to while away the hours alone or with friends, fewer children today have access to wild places, and fewer parents would approve of the solo excursions, even where the opportunity exists. But even if the neighborhood woods are gone, a climbing tree in the backyard or a private bedroom can make a fine refuge."