One of the most dreaded words from our kids’ mouth. And I don’t blame them. Nobody likes to be bored, right? Advertisers and video games and TV producers know this very well. Images change every few seconds and are full of visual and auditory stimulation. And viewers have the ultimate control tool- the remote control. If we don’t like it, we change it. Programs that do not produce instant and intense gratification are gone in a click (from “The ABA Program Companion”, by J. Tyler Fovel).
And this also applies, of course, to our kids and students. They “change the channel” by simply not paying attention, ignoring and exhibiting all kinds of disruptive behaviors. A lot of the challenging behaviors we deal with on a daily basis (not all, of course) are based on boredom. So, teachers and parents should pay special attention to the speed of instruction and activities and should have appropriate materials to keep children stimulated and engaged. It could drastically change the dynamic of the classroom and the household. Like hunger, if we wait until the child is bored is too late.
Some proven effective strategies include:
- Keep them busy: Plan ahead of time and structure the day in a consistently stimulating schedule of activities, including breaks and free time.
- Choose very stimulating materials: The new technologies available (tablets, mini computers, smart phones, etc.) makes it much easier. Attention: Do no overload them with video games. Intersect arts & crafts and physical activities, including outings and outdoor playing.
- Provide them with physical outlets and opportunities for social interactions in structure setting, such as sport/arts classes and community centers activities. Plan play-dates.
- Eliminate the competition: make undesired items/activities unavailable as much as possible.
- Set up the physical environment so that the opportunities for misbehaviors are reduced or eliminated.
- Teach and encourage choice making: include in your daily schedule opportunities for your kids to make choices. Too many rules can create oppositional behaviors. If they feel they have no control, they will fight for it, I assure you.
- And schedule times to play with them. See our previous blog “Special time” for more information.
Avoid boredom and you will be ahead of the game.
Daniel Adatto, BCBA