I remember that day as if it were yesterday. Standing in the hallway as my sixth-grade teacher, not knowing what to do with me, told me that I should see a psychologist because she was sure I had ADHD. My twelve-year-old brain didn’t know how to handle this information and my voice cracked as I looked at her and said that I may be a lot of things, but I’m not crazy. I had no idea what was being recommended to me at the time, I just know it didn’t feel good.
My parents took me to see the psychologist and my teacher was right, I did have issues with my attention. Through a series of exercises and a lot of hard work, I learned to develop the focus to be successful. I tell you all of this to tell you that I am qualified to say what comes next.
MY KIDS WILL NOT HAVE FIDGET SPINNERS.
Yes, these goofy little toys are cool looking, and I have no doubt that there is science behind them, but I will not buy that giving my children something to divide their attention will help them sharpen it. What they need is to develop their focus like a skill.
For me, this came in two parts; finding something to be passionate about, and getting comfortable being bored. The first one was easy, but the second is a lifetime discovery.
Developing my focus while I was in school wasn’t easy, but it got easier when my teachers starting making connections between the material that I was learning and something that I was passionate about, which when I was a kid was politics and cattle. It’s amazing how much easier learning is when you’re actually interested in the subject.
This is true in the adult world too. I have always struggled with writing. As you can tell from my numerous errors in my posts, the struggle continues. Finding the focus to crank out 500 words every day doesn’t come naturally to me, but because it’s connected to something that I’m passionate about; speaking and inspiring people, I’m able to focus. It had to connect to a passion before I could find it, however.
The second part of finding my focus is something that I still struggle with and I know I’m not alone. As a society, we just cannot stand being bored, even for seconds at a time. We play on our smartphones while standing in line at the grocery store or while waiting for a light to change in traffic. We scroll Facebook or watch viral, yet pointless YouTube videos simply because we’re bored.
Yet, boredom is the mother of creation. Allowing ourselves to be bored for moments at a time is the incubator space where powerful ideas are born. Our brains require this kind of downtime, time spent just being bored in order to be creative. When we can get comfortable with boredom, we can find the focus for our inspiring ideas but this can’t happen while playing with a toy.
I am not discounting that there are special needs people in this world that a fidget spinner can help, and help significantly, but its become much more trend than tool, and from my experience, we need to teach more kids how to focus, rather than just handing them a fidget.