In this lesson, we are going to explore teenage boredom. In it you will learn:
If you have not done so already, make sure you have taken our FREE foundation program The Neutral Parenting Formula which will really help you get the most from this. You can access it here for FREE through the end of 2012. After this the program will cost $997.
Before you start this lesson, take a couple of moments to think back to the last time you were bored. What did you do? How did you overcome it? Do you just turn on the TV or zombie out on Facebook? Do you feed your boredom with sugary sweets or alcohol? Do you go out shopping to fill that void? How creative are you when you become bored?
For many parents, when their teenager becomes bored they seem to think it’s not that important of an issue to address or pay attention to, when in fact, it’s the exact opposite. Teaching teenagers how to approach occasions of boredom is vital to the future of their success in life and here is why:
There are only two things that can transpire when someone is bored. They either use this time to become constructive or destructive. When we become bored, it can provide a great opportunity to explore life and who we are. However, this takes some level of curiosity and willingness to do some work. Otherwise, if we don’t use this time to be constructive, by default we choose to be mentally lazy and become destructive whether with depression, loneliness, or acting out in some way just to get attention.
When boredom is not used as an opportunity to be more constructive, it can turn into something that looks like kids getting in trouble, becoming depressed, or messing things up around the house. Boredom is real energy that is cooking inside your child and it needs to land somewhere just like a lightening bolt does. When they’re not taught how to use this energy wisely, it manifests into something chaotic. Many parents get frustrated with their kids when this happens yet fail to realize that it’s the parents responsibility to teach their kids how to use their time to be creative and use their imagination to come up with something to do.
The reason that boredom plays such an imperative role in the growth of your teenager is that it allows them to solidify their relationship with their imagination. Most of society tends to down play our imagination as if it were just an afterthought to our mind and personality construct. If you look at the most successful people in the world you will see they have quite a vivid imagination. All of our books, movies, art, music, and cultural artifacts were derived from someone’s imagination.
More importantly, the greatest inventions to have helped humankind thrive and make it this far all stemmed from our imagination. Our ability to think critically and come up with solutions stems from our imagination. Without it, we would have very little joy on this planet. It’s through our imagination that we can conjure up new ideas about what we want to do and who we want to be. Even the “smallest” idea can turn into something much more meaningful down the road.
All of life is about facing challenges in some way, shape, or form. However, where most adults get into trouble is when they don’t have the ability to come up with their own solutions, thus are constantly turning to other people for advice. Getting advice is great when the person receiving the advice knows how to discern the information and make it his or her own. The challenge most people face is that they don’t have a strong sense of self so they take advice from all sorts of people and do what others say they should be doing. This sends them in a downward spiral where they bounce around like a pinball and are always in reactive mode because they don’t know how to think for themselves.
When someone is put in touch with and builds a strong relationship with their imagination, they can use it as a platform to come up with creative solutions on their own. More importantly, when they’re able to filter advice through their own imagination to see how it sits with them, they can then decide for themselves to use the information or not. We live in a time where we’re receiving an overload of information and the only way we can sift through it and use it effectively is by engaging our imagination.
At some point or another, in the working world, you’ve probably heard the saying “they showed initiative”. This generally refers to someone who is being promoted because they’re very proactive in their company. They’re typically people who have strong imaginations that allow them to be more productive and action-orientated in their work environment. Anyone who succeeds in the workplace is someone who has a strong relationship with their imagination and will make the most of their day. They can create on the go and when a challenge arises can come up with an idea or solution.
On the other hand, when someone is bored and can’t think of anything to do, their company sees them as a liability. You can spot this person a mile away because they have a dull look on their face and are bored out of their mind. No company wants to constantly manage and motivate their employees to be creative and use their time productively. This is why so many people struggle in their career and business path because they don’t know how to think for themselves and create solutions to the challenges they’re facing. Maybe they’re in the wrong career and I cover that in the Career module. At the same time, maybe they just lack the ability to create a way to make the most of any situation.
Every moment of our lives is a constant choice where we choose what we want to do with our time. We can either make the most of it, or we can let it slip by and not take full advantage of each moment. But to be able to take full advantage of each moment requires our imagination.
When we don’t know how to engage our imagination, life can easily be filled with a lot of boring moments. For each of us, it’s a choice of how we choose to create and define each moment. Our entire life experience stems from our imagination. From our imagination we create a belief around what we’re experiencing. From our experience is where we define each moment. If we don’t have a healthy imagination to create healthy definitions and beliefs about what we’re doing, life is boring.
If you remember when you were a kid you had a great relationship with your imagination. You had a “special friend” you would talk to and you would play with your toys and make up games along the way. Most adults brush this aside and say, “Oh my kid has such a silly imagination”. It’s too bad that so many parents devalue this instead of encouraging it. Look at any child as they play and you will see that you don’t have to do much with them but watch them and ensure that they don’t hurt themselves. Just put them in a playground with some toys and they will entertain themselves for hours with all kinds of games to keep them busy.
When teenagers start playing too many video games, watching TV, eating too much, or getting into other trouble, it mostly stems from boredom. It’s at that moment where a teenager gives up that connection they had with their imagination and just becomes lazy. Many parents are concerned with the lack of motivation their kids have and fail to realize that it’s because they’re not helping their teenager solidify their relationship with their imagination. Ironically, because most parents don’t have a good relationship with their own imagination, they can’t come up with any ideas to help their kids.
Here are some ways to help spark your teenager’s imagination by asking them questions that open up creative ways of thinking. I call this “Top Three”.
1. Ask your teenager to list the top three things that excite them the most. You can say something like, “Besides watching TV, playing video games, or hanging out on Facebook or MySpace, what are the top three things that you would love to do?” When they come up with a list have them get involved with one of them to the best of their ability. It could even be something as simple as researching online and reading up on something new.
2. Ask your teenager to name the top three people they admire most and write down what it is they admire about them. Then have them learn more about that person to see who they are and how they behave in life. This is a great way to help put your teenager in touch with a role model.
3. Ask your teenager to name the top three places they would love to go in the world and why. Once they’ve written them down have them research it on the web. Tell them to figure out how much it would cost for them to go there and then write a list of things they would want to do.
4. Ask your teenager to name the top three things they want to accomplish in life. Again, have them write it down and ask them how they plan to accomplish it. This will get their creative juices flowing and start them looking forward to life by building a sort of action plan.
It may require you to spend some time with them to get the ball rolling. But you will see that once the “spark” and connection is made, then they will keep themselves busy for some time. However, you also have to be willing to keep them engaged along the process. Remember, teenagers have not established their structure and set of patterns, which is why you need to help lead the way. This is not about you doing it for them or them becoming dependent on you. It’s about you coaching them and supplying a spark when they need it to help them get the ball rolling with their project.
If they say that they can’t think of anything, tell them to go lie down in bed, close their eyes, and ask themselves the same questions in their mind and write down what comes up. Tell them to not come out of their room until they have the answers.
Asking Good Questions
As outlined in Module 5 of this course (only accessible in our private member area), asking good questions engages your teenager’s imagination so they can come up with their own solutions. Boredom is really just another way of saying, “lazy mind” or “no imagination”. Your job is to ask your kid good questions and get them moving in a healthier direction by engaging their imagination. Once you’ve helped them establish a relationship with their imagination, you will see that they will no longer be bored and will know how to create on their own. Now isn’t that something worth looking forward to as a parent? The time when your teenagers can create for themselves and not need you or anyone else to create their life?
Find Your Passion – This is an article I wrote that can guide your teenager on how to find your passion in life.
Life Purpose – This is another article I wrote that can help your teen find their life purpose.
I am on a mission to help heal this planet because I truly believe that so much of the trauma and drama our society endures stems from the fact that as youth we did not learn how to address our emotions, solve our problems, and discover our authentic selves. If you find any of this material beneficial, please support this school and our message by taking the following actions below.
– Sergio Diazgranados