When Your Child Says “I’m Bored!”

“I’m bored!”

“I don’t know what to do!”

“I’m sooo bored! This is boring!!”

What to do when your child is bored

When I was younger I learned, “It’s good to be bored. It teaches you patience. There will be times in your adult life when you are bored and there will be no one to rescue you.”

(No, that didn’t work for me either.)

So I started poking around the Web. Surely someone’s written about this.

The first thing I found said, “Figure out if she just wants your company. You’ll know if she rejects your ideas for activities she’d do alone. So invite her to chat with you while you pay bills or make dinner.” This may work for the child; less so for me. The boredom cries typically coincide with me having to work. So, indulge or not?

Then it said, “Suggest something unusual” like reading a story to the cat. This sounds more like a strategy for very young children. Mine would be perfectly fine playing more video games!

This one is most like what I learned years ago. “Let her be bored. Don’t rescue her as soon as she complains. Tell her you’ll help her in 15 minutes. By then, she may find a way to keep herself busy.” We’re getting closer, but something tells me Lucas will be back 15 minutes from now.

Child Boredom: A Gift?

Child boredom certainly doesn’t feel like a gift … but this article got me closer to where I started.

It says boredom is a chance for our child to develop skills that will help them leave the nest and lead a full and fulfilling life.

“Part of becoming a successful adult is the ability to problem solve and creatively live one’s life. When your kid says to you, “I’m bored,” what he is really saying to you is that right now I have no idea how to creatively fill my time. Not only is your child’s boredom not a crisis that you need to fill, but it is a huge opportunity for your child to create something out of that bored feeling that will be satisfying and help him develop and mature.”

I also liked the article’s perspective that in an increasingly scheduled and overstimulated society, if your child is occasionally bored, that’s a GOOD thing! “That means you have created some space in his life for him to grow and develop, and you will reap the rewards later if you handle the situation correctly!”

Did this article resonate with you? How do you deal with your child’s boredom?

Good luck from a fellow dad,

:: Joe Hage is CEO and Founder of medical device marketing firm Medical Marcom ::

Other posts from Joe Hage
Tweet your Kids, Parts One, Two, Three, Four, and Five
Dad’s Life Lessons: Rule #1, Rule #2, Rule #3
Dermott

10 Things I Miss Now That My Kids Are Older…

"When the kids were kids..."

It is Saturday afternoon and I am all alone. Olivia, my daughter and the youngest at 19 is at work at Panera Bread.  My middle Son, Ethan, is in Boston, battling the blizzards and enjoying the extra time he’s getting with his guitar thanks to “snow days” off from college. Zach, the first born and now 22, is done with college and though he is living at home, his schedule as a Chef keeps him out and about most weekends, including today.  How things change in just a few years.  Weekend time that was once devoted to my children is suddenly my own.  While I know they still need me, it is no longer for the daily “hands on” parenting that was once the norm.  The days of “kids will be kids” are now the days of “my kids are adults.” With that in mind, I have nothing better to do than to jot down…

10 Things I Miss Now That My Kids Are Older:

(If your kids are younger than mine, you are likely still experiencing some or all these things.  All I can say is, as frustrating and annoying as it all may seem at times, enjoy it. One day it will all be gone…)

In no particular order… the things I miss…

10. Noise - It is too darn quiet.  And blasting music does not fill the void of kid noise. It is not the same. When you feel that headache coming on because the kids have been banging toys and making noise all afternoon, smile instead and enjoy it.  One day soon it will be way too quiet.

9. Fighting – If you have more than one child then you know well the natural and irrational wrath of siblings.  The more inane the reason, the bigger the battle.  As my kids have gotten older, miraculously, rather than argue and fight, they have begun to support each other in mature and logical ways. Shocking!

8. Interruptions – Without toddlers waddling down the halls and leaping on laps… without tweens talking incessantly and asking questions… without kid being kids… I am left with nothing but my own powers of procrastination to stop me from getting things done on the weekend…

7. The Human ATM – Sure, I still give my kids an allowance, automated to be credited to their Visabuxx cards, but aside from that, they hardly ever hit me up for the random $5, $10, or $20, like they used to before they had their own incomes.  Now, when I go to the cash machine and load my wallet with some bills, they generally stay there until I actually spend it myself…  Bizarre!

6. Being A Chauffeur – Unless you live downtown in a major city, you probably feel you spend an inordinate amount of time (and gas) driving your kids around. Driving them to school, driving them to sports, dance class, friend’s houses, parties, doctor and dentist appointments, the mall, the movies, miles and miles as a parental taxi service.  Rest assured, one day they will obtain driver’s licenses, and access to vehicles, and suddenly you will trade in being fed up driving for being fearful of their driving

5. Being A Cook – All my kids know how to cook, one of them is a professional.  Long gone are the days when I had to be concerned with making dinner for the kids.  With everyone on different schedules, between work, and work and school, rare is the night when we are all home for dinner at the same time, and everyone now more or less cooks for themselves…  I don’t miss the cooking for all as much as I miss the dinners together.

4. Homework Helper – I still occasionally get asked to advise or help with a homework assignment, but not too often.  The good news is that I am much better at helping with college level tasks than I ever was with things as complicated as high school algebra.  Hmmm, maybe I don’t actually miss being a homework helper…

3. Enforcing Rules – When your kids are young you can have all sorts of rules.  Bedtime, TV time, Computer time, Homework time, etc.  Once your kids become adults, real rules become few and far between.  After all, once they are in their 20′s, they are more or less subject to the same rules we as are… Curfew? Gesundheit!

2. Making Plans – I can remember when weekends revolved around planning activities to occupy and entertain the kids.  Movies, bowling, museums, an afternoon at the skate park, somehow or another we always had to have “plans.”  Then one day it all changes. Your kids still have plans every weekend… they just don’t include you anymore…

1. Finding a baby sitter – I can still remember the days when we could not leave the house without bringing the kids, or arranging for someone to watch the kids.  Then one day, the kids were simply old enough to watch themselves. You may not believe it is possible, but it will happen.

I present this list with bittersweet emotions.  Of course I am so very proud of my kids, and the mature, grounded, reasonably self-sufficient young adults they have become. And, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the “me” time their budding independence has facilitated.  However, I’d also be lying if I didn’t say that a part of me sorely misses the weekends when they needed me more…

What about you? How many of the ten things above are you still enjoying?

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.??

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Pink and Blue Tasks

I’ve been reading this great book, a real-life love story called The Motion of the Ocean by Janna Cawrse. It’s the story of a now-married couple, the journey it took them to get there and the adventure of abandoning their lives for a 17,000 mile sail around the Pacific Ocean in a leaky boat. I’m an avid sailor (been doing it since I was a young child) but the book’s draw isn’t the nautical context. It’s the one man, one woman, partner story that defines the everyday life of a working marriage in some of the most extreme and certainly stressful conditions that I have found appealing.

There’s a chapter that talks about the tasks that Janna and her husband Graeme have to tackle on the boat that introduces the concept of “Pink and Blue” tasks. Janna goes on to write:

“Ask any cruiser out there about these two colors and they’ll tell you what you already guessed: women do Pink tasks (cooking, cleaning, laundry and seeing) and Men do Blue tasks (electronics, mechanics, installing, fixing).”

So being a sailor, and my wife being my first mate whenever we’re out on a boat together, I brought the idea up to her, not only about life on the boat but also, for us, off it. We’ve been married more than 10 years and from my POV, we most certainly have Pink and Blue tasks in our lives. It’s just how it’s worked out. She’s never mowed the lawn, I think I once took our child to the pediatrician without her. She’s never climbed the ladder into the attic to change the furnace filter and you can count on one hand the number of days in the past year I picked up the dry cleaning. It’s not intentional. It’s not something we ever discussed or planned. It just is. We have Pink and Blue tasks in our lives every day, and the Blue tasks are often tied to when mechanical things break in the house. When that happens, I fix them, not my wife. Always.

And this, she said, was very chauvinistic. She was overtly offended and told me in no uncertain terms that we did not have Pink and Blue tasks. If I wanted her to mow the lawn, I should just ask her. If I would show her how things around the house worked, she’d help with them.

So last week, after returning from a day-long business trip to St. Louis, walking up the driveway just after 9 p.m. (after leaving the house at 5 a.m.), our daughter comes running out into the snow, in 20 degree weather without a jacket, yelling “Mommy needs your help…the dishwasher is leaking.”

Sure enough, the kitchen floor is filled with water-soaked towels, a mop and a pail as water pours out of the corners of the dishwasher.

And it’s at this point my wife concedes. “I apologize. You’re right. I’m wrong. There are Pink and Blue tasks. Please help with this blue task and fix the dishwasher and get the leaking to stop.”

And so I did. It took a bit to diagnose the issue, but I wiped all the extra gunk out from beneath the seal where the door meets the dishwasher floor and all was right again with the world. No more leak.

How does it work in your homes dads (and moms)? Do you have Pink and Blue tasks in your lives or is your partnership evenly blended into a light shade of purple?

Nazi Zombies, Mudballs, and Why I Am Afraid I Am Screwing My Kids Up

The other day one of my kids ran in the house after school and made a bee-line to his room.  In a matter of minutes the XBox360 was online and he was fragging (ask your kids, they know what it means) his buddies and trash talking (using his wireless voice-over-ip headset) his way through a World War II maze of Nazi zombies.  A few days later my other son who is also a zombie killing XBox360 aficionado did the same thing with his buddies.

That in and of itself isn’t that remarkable, I mean, I just described half of American teenage boys, right?  But what was interesting to me was that in both cases my sons had just left the company of their friends.  To be more specific, they were having more fun with their friends not being there than if they were there.  Are you getting this?  They were together with their friends, but then decided that playing games online with said friends was better.  This is so far removed from the vivid memories of my childhood years that it is stark in contrast.  Let me explain…

I was pretty much your average middle-class, subdivision-living, kid back in the 70s and 80s.  The neighborhood kids would all hang out in someone’s yard, or tromp through the woods (as much as you could call it woods) in the backyard and our moms would have to holler out the back door when it was time to come home to eat dinner.  And many times we would pretend not to hear mom because of course we had more important things to do like climb trees and generally wreak havoc with the neighborhood girls.  My kids don’t have any memories like that.  None.

Now, this is not to say that my childhood was the iconic dream world that every kid should have the privilege of enjoying, or that somehow my kids have been permanently harmed because of this fact.  I remember my first gaming systems (can you say Atari 2600??) and the joy I found in technology that captured my imagination as a kid, and still does today.  I ‘get’ the whole gaming thing, still enjoy a game or two when I can find the time, and in truth at times am jealous of those gorgeous, immersive gaming experiences that my kids utterly enjoy daily.  And if I could get away with it (and not get grief from my wife), I just might join them in their nazi-fragging bliss.  But now that I have the benefit of endless streams of wisdom because of my vast years of experience as a man and a father, I am a bit concerned.

You see, I am afraid that my kids aren’t going to know how to do lots of things. I learned how to manage my time for maximum playtime and enjoyment before mom hollered.  I learned teamwork.  I learned how to make forts out of tree branches and the art of making the perfect mudball. (Skills that obviously serve me well in my career today, right?) I developed a respect for nature and my surroundings.  I learned how to make my own fun even when I didn’t have many things to have fun with.  And I learned endless life lessons from the arguing, fighting, reconciling, negotiating, sharing, and secrets that I shared with my buddies.

(L-R) Carlie, Harrison, Evan, and ColeMaybe I am just jaded, or maybe I am slowly turning into a grumpy old man.  But I am fearful that in my quest to give my kids the ‘things’ that they desire and that all their friends have, that I am doing them harm.  I fear that my kids are going to grow up into adults that don’t know how to interact with co-workers, family members, and neighbors.  Kids who won’t appreciate nature and the sheer joy that comes from climbing a tree and getting sap all over your hands.  But I think I figured it out.

Tomorrow I am gonna take the XBox away, give them each a stick and force them to go outside and play in the woods.  Better yet, I’ll go with them and show them how to make a mudball and throw it at girls.  Yeah, that will fix everything.  Or maybe I’ll just kill some nazi zombies with them.  That sounds more fun anyway.

A Kid Friendly iPad Case That Lets You Trace!

As part of the Dad-O-Matic CES coverage, Chris Brogan shared a look at the Crayola ColorStudioHD iPad app and “digital crayon” coming soon from Griffin Technology.  Cool as the Crayola app is, it wasn’t the only neat thing we saw from the Griffin gang.  Dave Delaney also showed me the Griffin LightBoard, which is a colorful, kid friendly iPad case (and companion drawing app) that cleverly lets you overlay a sheet of paper so kids can trace and recreate on paper their digital drawings.  Very clever and cool.  Dave also reveals a secret about the packaging for the LightBoard that every dad (and mom) will appreciate.  Also, Dave and the Griffin team were kind enough to give Dad-O-Matic a LightBoard to give to one of you.  Watch the video below and leave a comment between now and the end of the day Friday, January 21st and we’ll randomly pick one person to receive the LightBoard (iPad NOT included).

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.??

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Shattered Dreams, And Hope For The Future…

As parents, as Americans, as humans, it is difficult not to have been affected by the tragic and senseless violence in Arizona one week ago today.  While the target of the horrific attack may have been a politician, all indications are that this was not an act of political unrest, but rather the appalling and inexplicable brutality of a twisted and mentally disturbed mind.  Sadly, the lives of the innocent were brutally taken, including one sweet nine year old girl, Christina Taylor Green.  As you have surely seen reported, the young budding politician had recently been elected her class president, and was born on another tragic day, September 11, 2001.  She seems like she was the perfect little girl, as all our daughters are, especially at that wonderful age of innocence and wonder. I cannot begin to imagine the pain and loss experienced by her family, and the families of the others killed and injured.  I can only feel sadness as I embrace my own children and shudder within at the thought of such possibilities in our lives.

The President spoke emotionally at a memorial service in Arizona, and First Lady Michelle Obama released a statement that hits home from a parent’s perspective… here is an excerpt of her thoughts for parents:

“As parents, an event like this hits home especially hard.  It makes our hearts ache for those who lost loved ones.  It makes us want to hug our own families a little tighter.  And it makes us think about what an event like this says about the world we live in – and the world in which our children will grow up.

In the days and weeks ahead, as we struggle with these issues ourselves, many of us will find that our children are struggling with them as well.  The questions my daughters have asked are the same ones that many of your children will have – and they don’t lend themselves to easy answers.  But they will provide an opportunity for us as parents to teach some valuable lessons – about the character of our country, about the values we hold dear, and about finding hope at a time when it seems far away.

We can teach our children that here in America, we embrace each other, and support each other, in times of crisis.  And we can help them do that in their own small way – whether it’s by sending a letter, or saying a prayer, or just keeping the victims and their families in their thoughts.

We can teach them the value of tolerance – the practice of assuming the best, rather than the worst, about those around us.  We can teach them to give others the benefit of the doubt, particularly those with whom they disagree.

We can also teach our children about the tremendous sacrifices made by the men and women who serve our country and by their families.  We can explain to them that although we might not always agree with those who represent us, anyone who enters public life does so because they love their country and want to serve it.”

I worry about my children and their safety every day, as I know you do too.  Families in Arizona have been unexpectedly faced with every family’s dreaded nightmare.  My heart goes out to the family and friends of  Christina Taylor Green, Representative Gabrielle Giffords and everyone whose lives were affected by the horrendous shootings last week.

In the midst of the sad aftermath of this event, my friend CC Chapman pointed me to the video below of another inspiring young girl, 8 year old Elizabeth Hughes, singing the National Anthem at a Norfolk Admirals game, just the day before the Arizona shootings.  Her voice is as pure, proud and unwavering as one can imagine Christina Taylor Green’s would have been had she been given the opportunity to speak with Representative Giffords as she had hoped to.  As a talented young singer, Elizabeth Hughes is inspiring to watch and hear… and when her microphone fails the crowd pitches in, reminding us that the words of our anthem still ring true, and that, as Americans, we can and will support each other no matter what.

A good thing to remember as we honor and memorialize those we have lost too soon…

Photo Credit: © Keith Hughes – Fotolia.com

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Coloring for the iPad with Crayola ColorStudioHD

I had the pleasure of catching up with Dave Delaney from Griffin Technology at the Consumer Electronics show, and he caught us up on the really cool app that Griffin developed with Crayola, called ColorStudio HD. We shot this little review here:

Can’t see this video, click here.

Check out the Crayola ColorStudio HD and let us know what you think?

Bringing Toys To Life at CES 2011: Intel Labs OASIS

Central Hall Panorama @CES 2011 (c) 2011 Jeffrey W. Sass - Taken with Sony NEX-5

???I am back from the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) with sore feet, weary eyes and more than a few gigabytes of images and videos of some cool (and unusual) technology and gadgets.  I look forward to sharing a lot of that content with you here on Dad-O-Matic, and will try to focus on the stuff that you will most likely be able to benefit from or be interested in as parents.

Back To The Future

One of the things that makes the annual pilgrimage to CES exciting is the opportunity to look into the crystal ball and see a bit of the future, as many companies display prototypes and experimental products that are not available today, but may be introduced at some time in the not so distant future.  These are the things that often spark “WOW” moments and geekasmic pangs of “I want one!”  They also often spark the imagination, as you can really see how fast advances in consumer oriented computing and technology are moving us toward a tech enhanced lifestyle that was once only imagined in Science Fiction.  I have no doubt that our kids and grand-kids will be taking for granted the kind of technology infused world we gawked at in movies like BLADE RUNNER, THE FIFTH ELEMENT, MINORITY REPORT and many others.

Sponsors Of Tomorrow

While known best for its microprocessor chips, because of the deep impact those chips have on our lives by being inside and powering so many products we use and will use, Intel considers itself the “Sponsors Of Tomorrow” (and they were also the sponsor of my trip to CES this year).   The company invests heavily in Research and Development and one of the technologies that impressed and awed me the most was on display at the Intel CES booth.  It was a demonstration of the OASIS Perceptive Home project from Intel Labs.

Bringing Toys (and other objects) To Life

Leveraging the massive processing power of the latest microchips, along with 3D Image detection, micro projection, and a host of other technologies, the OASIS project (OASIS stands for Object Aware Situated Interactive System) creates an instant interactive augmented reality experience around common household items.  In the video below I took of the CES booth demo, you can see the OASIS system turning simple LEGO toys on a table top into fully animated, interactive play environments.   A small overhead unit that combines “Kinect-like” cameras, as well as color projectors and speakers, the OASIS can “recognize” objects and then react based on pre-determined logic and rules.  The imagined applications of this technology are endless, from finding recipes or building a shopping list by simply placing items on the kitchen counter, to creating custom interactive play surfaces based on the specific toys your child may be playing with, and as many other uses as a creative mind can imagine.

Playing With Fire The Safe Way

In the video below you will see how OASIS can make a LEGO dragon breathe animated fire… but not to worry, all it takes is a LEGO fire truck to come to the rescue and hose down the dragon caused damage.  I can remember breaking my back crawling around the floor to pick up the pieces of toy railroad tracks, strewn about after my sons would “play.”  If I only had an OASIS back then, my aspiring young Engineers could have created their own virtual railroad system by simply dragging their fingers along the dining room table.  Watch the video below and you will see what I mean.

What do you think? Can you imagine uses for Intel’s OASIS technology in your home? How would you like to see this technology “productized” for your use?  Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments, and I look forward to sharing more cool stuff and “Dadgets” from CES in upcoming posts.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.??

DISCLOSURES: I am part of the “Intel Advisor” program and am compensated and/or receive other value from Intel to attend events on their behalf, including the 2011 CES show. I was also given a camera by Sony to use to take photographs at CES.

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CES Bound: Gadgets, Dadgets, and A Remote Control Give Away!

International CESThere is no doubt that gadgets have truly gone mainstream.  Look around your home and what do you see?  Smartphones, Tablets, E-book readers, Computers, Game Consoles.  Gadgets galore.  Never before have kids grown up in households that so avidly consume consumer electronics.  Even two year old toddlers are playing with “toys” with processors inside.  Instead of finger painting, they are intuitively fingering capacitive touch screens and learning to read by tapping rather than turning pages.  I am a dad who loves gadgets, so you won’t hear me complain as more and more tech toys (for kids of ALL ages) invade our homes.  When I was part of the Sony DigiDad project I called the cool gadgets dads play with “Dadgets!”  More recently I am honored to have been selected as an “Intel Advisor,” giving me the opportunity to take a closer look at innovative lifestyle tech products such as the Intel Reader.

A SMORGASBORD FOR GADGET LOVERS

For a very long time, one of my favorite conventions to attend has been the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and I have been fortunate to be able to attend for business purposes throughout my career.  This year, in addition to monitoring all the activity in the mobile world in my role at Myxer, I am also attending CES on behalf of Intel and the Intel Advisors, and will have a chance to look more closely at how technology and consumer electronics are impacting our family lives.  I hope to share a lot of what I learn about interesting gadgets and “Dadgets” with you here on Dad-O-Matic while I am at the show, and after I return.  From home electronics to automating our automobiles with apps, the latest and greatest in innovative products and concepts will be on display at CES and I’ll do my best to give you a taste of the technologies and trends I encounter.

TAKING CONTROL WITH TECHNOLOGY & GADGETS

As parents there are many ways we can use technology to take control of our lives and make things at home more funHarmony® One Advanced Universal Remote and convenient.  From remote controlled cameras and baby monitors, to remote controls for the entertainment system in the family room… From robot floor cleaners to wireless streaming music… there are countess ways we incorporate gadgets into our daily home lives, hopefully in ways that make things easier and more fun for all.  One gadget that has won the prestigious “BEST OF INNOVATIONS” award at past CES shows is the Harmony One universal remote from Logitech and I am happy to say I have a brand new Harmony One touchscreen universal remote to give away to a Dad-O-Matic reader! I own a Harmony Remote I bought a couple of years ago and it is a great way to take control of multiple devices, from TV’s to DVD players and sound systems, with a single remote. The best feature is perhaps the setup of the remote. Instead of looking up and entering complicated manufacturer codes, the Harmony series of remotes features a very simple guided online setup.  You just connect the remote to your computer and enter the brand and model of all the equipment you want to control and the software does the rest, configuring your Harmony One perfectly.  The rechargeable Harmony One is one of Logitech’s top of the line remotes, featuring both conveniently placed buttons and a customizable touch screen.  Thanks to the friendly folks at Logitech, I have one Harmony One to give away.  All you need to do is leave a comment on this post between now and the end of the day on January 10th, ideally telling us how you use gadgets to gain more control in your home. One of your comments will be randomly selected to receive the Harmony One.  Good luck!

If there are specific gadgets (or Dadgets) you want me to look out for at CES this year, you can mention that in the comments as well!

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.??

DISCLOSURES: I am part of the “Intel Advisor” program and am compensated and/or receive other value from Intel to attend events on their behalf, including the 2011 CES show.  The Harmony One universal remote being offered in this post was provided as a courtesy by Logitech’s PR team.

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