Challenging Kids
By Jo Ann Wentzel

Kids with bad behaviors are often bored kids. If we don't challenge our kids enough, they get into trouble. We all remember the worry we experienced as parents of younger children when we 'wondered what they were up to.' The problem remains the same with teens.

If you have a teen that is a self-starter, one who initiates contacts and looks for things to occupy his time, this is not such a problem. However, if your teen tends to sit in a lump being bored and not sure what to do, it may be that you need to challenge them.

I believe when kids are bored, trouble follows. I always say that while kids are getting rid of sameness, the boredom of everyday existence, they lose saneness. When a child isn't kept busy, they fill up their time with actions and activities that sometimes show poor judgement. Keeping active, busy and chasing boredom away is their most important goal. A teen is by nature a bundle of uninhibited energy and emotions; they need to rid themselves of these feelings by being active.

What can parents do? First, make sure your child isn't bored because schoolwork is not challenging him enough. If he is too advanced for the class work he is doing, he will get bored. Talk to the school about helping him become more challenged with different or advanced subjects or special extra clubs, meetings or responsibilities.

Next, look at his social life. Is he doing the same thing every night with the same friends? Maybe they need variety, suggest it or even arrange it. Or maybe your teen is bored due to a lack of friends, introduce him to more. Get him involved in other social groups besides school such as church groups, clubs, Community- Ed classes, sports, hobby groups etc. Don't forget exercise and fitness to add another element of interest to an otherwise dull day for teens.

Keep home life interesting with celebrations for holidays and special events. Plan family nights, and meetings to plan vacations, daytrips, recreation possibilities or new equipment for the family such as a canoe, a computer, or a big screen TV.

Challenge your child in conversation and responsibility at home. Talk about interesting topics to get them involved and feeling like part of the world. Add responsibility for a teen that feels bored constantly. If they have a part time job or more to do at home it will take away the dullness of their lives. Do not propose 'busy work', always actual jobs that require being done.

Try these suggestions and soon the b-word will not be heard at your house.