I’m bored. This is a phrase I hear a lot from my teen. The reasons teens feel bored more often is partly due to developmental changes to their dopamine levels. Dopamine is our reward chemical. It’s the rush of happiness that we get when we have an accomplishment, do something fun and exciting, or have a new experience. The funny thing… Dopamine in teens is lower at baseline and hits higher peeks when they experience something novel and thrilling compared to adults.
What does this mean?!?
How To Come Up With Summer Teen Activites
Teens feel more bored when they are sitting around and they get more thrill when they do something exciting (… even risky, I may say). This is the reason teens do so many risky things and the reason we hear “I’m booooored” ALL.THE.TIME.
So how can we manage this case of boredom over the summer? We can find ways to give our teens safe excitement… and dare I say, find ways to connect with them in the process. Dan Siegel in his book Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain. tells the story of taking his son to a parking garage at night and going down the ramp on skateboards. Safe enough. Thrilling. Connecting. Sounds great!
I know we can’t entertain our kids all day like this and nor should we. So, we can find a balance. Here are a few ideas:
- During the day have them read one of your favorite books and talk about it with them. Or pick up a new book you can read together.
- Give them the responsibility of making a meal for the family. Planning and all. For the teens that don’t drive, you can hit the grocery story together.
- Crafts. Crafts. Crafts. Do they paint? Crochet? Keep their minds busy with creativity.
- Do they have siblings? Have all the kids make a short film together.
What about excitement? These are things that usually take more planning and sometimes have a cost. Here a few ideas though:
- Skateboarding, as mentioned by Dan Siegel. Or biking. Or whatever interest your teen has that can be fun and exciting with you.
- Create a scavenger hunt with them or for them.
For these, the sky’s the limit. There are so many options that can be both free and with cost.
Happy summer break-ing.