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How to Respond When Your Kid Says Everything is Boring

Welcome to Tea & Tips, where we respond to burning questions from parents and educators — taking aim on one topic at a time, guiding you to improve communication, confidence and calm.

Diane:
"Everything is boring."

Elaine:
"Oh, it's so boring."

Diane:
"Oh, my gosh. It is so boring, mom. This is just the most boring thing ever. Why do we never do anything fun? Everything is boring."

Elaine:
"Right. Why do you ask me to do that? It's so boring."

Diane:
Yes, and this happens all the time because life is boring and ... So, what do you do when your kid says everything is boring?

Elaine:
Well, before that, here's what I want to say. What if they're right? What if it is boring for them, right? We have to remember that our kids have brains that are constantly stimulation seeking, right? And so, they're looking for input. They're looking for the shiny object, right?

Diane:
Well, and what that means is that their brain needs dopamine. They need that rush to get their brain to do what they need their brain to do, and so they actually need the stimulation. And so if something's boring, what they're really saying is that, "Mom or dad, I don't have enough energy to do the thing that I want to be able to do or do the thing you're asking me to do," or whatever it is.

Elaine:
"I can't get engaged, right?" So, how do you handle it? Well, one, you get curious. And help them understand what motivates them, what engages them. Help them understand, what is it that's so boring about it?

Diane:
Well, and have compassion for it.

Elaine:
Yes. It's like, "I get it."

Diane:
I know, I get it. I know it's hard ... There's things that I have to do that are boring and it's hard for me to get my brain to do what I want it to do. And then, that's the third piece of it is helping them understand that it's not about, is it boring, is it not? It's about getting their brain to do what you want it to do.

Elaine:
Right. I have this story. You've heard it a thousand times, but it's a great story that ... I had asked my kids to go to the grocery store to handle something. My oldest child was 18 at the time, and they really didn't want to. It's way too boring. And so, the oldest kid looked at the others, at the siblings and went, "Okay, everybody. Superheroes to the grocery store." They donned capes and boxers over their pants, and they all got engaged and made this trip to the grocery store not boring, right?

Diane:
I think that that's the piece of it is that they got the fact that they needed to make it not boring ... in order to get it done, and I think that that's the piece of it is helping kids to get to that place. They're not going to get there overnight. Lectures about, "Well, we have to do this," are not going to necessarily help. So, making things more interesting as much as you can.

Elaine:
And helping them understand that they are stimulation seeking, and so they do need to find ways to make things interesting to themselves because it's not going to just be automatic.

Diane:
And it's not a bad thing because it's a part of the way their brain works.

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