Many times during my years as a family coach, I’ve been asked about how parents and grandparents can make sure teens aren’t falling into a ‘bored rut’ during the school holidays when one or both parents are still hard at work, and it’s especially important to ask this question at a time and age like this when buying them the latest Xbox game and plonking them down in front of the TV for the holidays seems like the easiest option.
The key aspect of boredom is being unproductive, and many young people get very impatient when there’s ‘nothing to do’ – after all, they’re in their element when there’s something going on all the time – think the instant gratification of a world they’ve grown up in.
So here are a few tips I’ve picked up on, and have found actually work as win-win solutions for pre-teens & teens, grandparents and their parents
Tip 1: Give Them Their Own Time
With the end of the school year, teens feel like they’ve finally got some sense of freedom, and with the exams having just passed, they need to relax. Give them the time to sleep in, or even laze around the TV sometimes when they’re over at your place.
Tip 2: Decide on the Rules of Having Friends Over
As grandparents, are their friends allowed to come over to your place? Do you have to know their friends who are coming over? Whatever decision you make around this, make the rules clear – rules are easier to bypass for teens when they haven’t been verbally communicated to you, the grandparent or parent.
Tip 3: Get Them To Plan Out Their Week
I thought this was the lamest thing I had ever heard when a colleague told me about this, but it works. When you pose the challenge to your teens to plan out their week, it gives them time to search online to see what’s going on in the local area, and actually realise there is a world outside of the house!
Tip 4: Give Them the Task of Making Dinner
With all the cooking shows going around, many younger people are getting into cooking (think Junior MasterChef). When you’re leaving for work, leave them a budget and the challenge to surprise you with a special dinner.
Tip 5: Busy Business
Plant an idea in their head about starting up a business. Or perhaps start with getting them to list some of your household’s unwanted items on eBay – it could be their pocket money! With the internet, anything is possible.
Tip 6: Hand Them a Camera or Art Supplies, and Watch…
Young people have a wild imagination, so help harness and unleash this through art – this will give them hours of time to spend on something that will help them express their creativity.
Tip 7: Endorse Sport
Suggest some sports they can go play with their friends – if you have the equipment for it, just hand it to them – they may have forgotten you still have that set of tennis racquets in the garage, or not even begin to imagine the sorts of treasures you possess hiding away in some spot in the house!
Tip 8: Writing Christmas Cards
If they are totally bored, give them the Christmas Cards you need to write to family and friends, and get them to write messages on each card, and sign for the whole family. Not only is it a lovely gesture to get a Christmas Card from a family friend that was written by one of their kids/grandkids, but it’ll tick one more thing off your list AND give your teen something useful to spend their time on.
Tip 9: Decorate the Christmas Tree
Same as above – great fun for teens, and a task that ‘just needs to be done’ for you, that actually gets done!
What are some of the ways you get your teenagers out of the ‘boredom rut’?