When we’re chatting about the school day, consider NOT asking the one size doesn’t fit all ‘Go-to’ Question- ‘Was it fun?’
It’s great when the answer is a resounding YES, not so great when it’s flat out NO and you feel like you’ve hit a conversation-crushing brick wall!

Outdoor portrait of two talking boys teenagers 15, 16 years old

We want  teenagers to understand and appreciate that not everything they need to learn, take part in or experience at high school (or life for that matter) is going to be FUN and trigger a big surge of feel-awesome dopamine. As a former teacher, I know how hard I worked, as did my colleagues, to create engaging, uplifting, interesting learning experiences, but with hand on heart… not every lesson was FUN. And let’s be realistic, what’s fun to one teenager, may be tot flop to another. This rings true in our own homes between siblings.

We are living in a dopamine-on-demand world, and the teen brain is very much conditioned to be part of experiences that deliver a hefty dopamine hit. By lessening unrealistic expectations about school and how each session, lesson or school day is going to be, we’re keeping life real and encouraging the rewiring teenage brain to be more creative, patient and accepting that some things we just need get done, regardless of the potential fun factor.

Life is full of fast and fun, boring and beige, and it’s this complex mix that creates a healthy balance of ups, downs, highs and lows.

Sometimes life is about showing up to boring, blah and plain old mundane routine. That’s life, always has been, always will be. We need these moments so we can appreciate the high times when smiles are in abundance and laughter’s all around.

They key is the personal attitude, effort and energy  we choose to bring to the blah (but hey, it’s all about perspective right!). Practicing personal mindset choice keeps teenagers in control of their own learning and ultimately, forge an empowered gateway to what’s possible for them. It’s in these moments of boredom that resilience is built, neural pathways in the brain are layered, reminding teenagers to push through, find their own drive from within and of course build their own intrinsic habits of motivation.

Of course, FUN is great, and who doesn’t want more fun in life? But it’s not always a part of everything we do in life or in every lesson at school.
Education, learning, sport, training, cleaning, chores, food shopping, cooking or subjects in the school day isn’t always layered in fun.

Let’s not condition our kids to expect/demand fun be delivered to them in every subject, lesson or activity and ultimately become an essential pre-requisite to their learning … this is a dangerous habit with the potential to cause disappointment at every corner.

So with this in mind… to keep conversations going and connection intact after school and avoid parent frustration when the FUN question is asked and the NO answer is given..
Try asking a couple of these questions to keep the conversation going.

Questions to ask  –
1. How did you show up today?
2. What was your energy like in ….. this afternoon?
3. How did you get the most out of ……?
4. Did you manage to complete the …..?
5. Any surprises today?
6. Did you get through that long ……. session better than yesterday?
7. Were you on the receiving end of help from a teacher?
8. Any curveballs come your way today?
9. Did you love your …. session. I know you were looking forward to it.
10. Anything totally impress you today?
11. Did you have fun? Keep this one handy, because it definitely has a place, but will backfire if over-used!

When we ask intentional questions, we assist teens to their thoughts around so they can manage themselves from the inside out and take more control of their own mental, social and emotional fitness.

There’s more tips and tricks like this in books for teens –  ROC and RISE and HELLO HIGH SCHOOL

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