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Beating Tween Boredom

It's summer. Whether it's the time before or after your tween starts camp, or if you're staring down weeks on the calendar full of empty days, at some point all the board games will become "bored" games.

"Boredom in and of itself isn't necessarily the enemy. There's a reason kids express boredom as they move into tweenhood," says Bill Ritchie, game inventor and founder of Thinkfun. "They're trying on new ideas, it's a natural expression of rejection and questioning, like a call-out about wondering what to do. One of the ways of thinking about it is offering choices for the kid, and boredom might be one of the acceptable choices."

When the kids are finally bored of being bored, they'll want something to do.

Instead of suggesting a specific task or activity, consider having a list of potential activities typed out or written on a piece of paper that kids can keep in their room, but leave it to them to choose and plan, suggests Ingrid Kellaghan, founder of Cambridge Nanny Group in Chicago. "The goal is to let kids learn how to entertain themselves no matter where they are; the trick is giving them enough age-appropriate freedom to make their own decisions. Expecting the best of your children keeps the tennis ball of life in their court. You'd be amazed how following this principle will take the heat off of you having to alleviate their boredom while teaching them a great life lesson at the same time."

Nancy Lublin, CEO of DoSomething.org, an organization for young people and social action, says that most kids want to volunteer, but they don't know where to start. "Working with animals and homeless people or seniors are great starter causes for tweens. Why? Because they are accessible and easy to understand," she says.

When you've put the kibosh on being a couch potato, try offering up these boredom busters:

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