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Want to Be a Better Parent?

Currently in Formation students are learning about how the adolescent brain works. What this affirms is that our brains crave instant gratification. Many would argue that the Millennial Generation (your son) is set up for failure as they grow up expecting instant gratification from iPads to iPhones leading them to be the “iGeneration” – all about me!

Increasingly boys are not provided with what is truly and deeply good for them but rather a childhood that is highly stimulating and littered with quick fixes. Because of this, students can be emotionally unavailable to learn and teachers are required to ‘entertain’ rather than teach students in order to engage them.

There is still a need for tried and tested things like boredom responsibilities and limits. Unfortunately (or fortunately) real life requires the brain to work through boredom. Boys can find this difficult and become fidgety the moment their brains perceive even minor “boredom”. The recent ‘fad’ of spinner fidgets are a symptom that they require instant gratification. At ATC when students began to bring them to class, in an attempt to simulate their brains, the more they craved them the less emotionally available for learning they were. This has been confirmed previously. Granted, there are some students who require fidgets. However, even for these kids, the fidgets are just a quick fix. These children require a much deeper approach to help them concentrate. In many cases, if a child needs fidgets, it means that his brain is overly stimulated and he actually needs help calming his brain down.

So how do we support our boys to become less fidgety? Here are a few suggestions from Victoria Prooday, Occupational Therapist
• Don’t take the responsibility of constantly entertaining your kids, as they need to learn to self-regulate through boredom. Teach them that “boredom” is a normal state and how to recognise signs of boredom and strategies for how to deal with it.
• Put a conscious effort to train your child’s delayed gratification skills. Avoid using technological babysitters and train his ability to just sit and wait. One way to do this is to teach your child to sit at a table until everyone finishes eating.
• Limit your child’s access to technology. In addition, unplug from your own phone and share quality time with your child.
• Bring calmness into their lives by listening to calm music, sitting around for a chat or playing board games.
• Offer plenty of sleep in technology free bedrooms.
• Train your child’s ability to complete monotonous work, such as helping with cooking, setting a table, making his/her bed, or folding clothes.

Conor Finn, Dean of Formation
finnc@atc.qld.edu.au