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What do 11 yr old boys do?

(29 Posts)
BlogOnTheTyne Sun 03-Mar-13 06:41:44

I've got two of them - twins. Left to their own devices, they'll spend the entire day at w/es sitting at their PCs. Torn away from screens, they literally can't think of anything to do with their time. They'll tolerate half an hour playing Monopoly or cards with me but soon fight/get bored.

In warmer weather, I might be able to force them outdoors - though even this is debatable.

They browse (appropriate) internet sites, watch reruns of cartoons. One does at least do lots of writing his own stories and plays on computer. The other does a bit of programming and also some computer games.

Neither is sporty. They don't have wiis or DS or X-box but do spend most of their unstructured time at PCs. Neither does model making or lego or meccano. Neither does art/crafts for fun.

What else do 11 yr old boys do? We don't live in an area where they can safely go out alone. Their friends are driving distance away and there's also an issue with friendships anyway right now, as these are breaking up/ reforming etc as they're all in senior school and more dispersed.

When they recently had 2 friends round, it was clear that all 4 had trouble knowing what to do with their time. A bit of screens, a half-hearted game in the garden but clearly even the friends were bored.

In the 21st century, if you're NOT sitting at a screen, what do you do indoors, as an 11 yr old boy - especially, what do you do if your parent/s don't have time to 'entertain' you?

SavoyCabbage Sun 03-Mar-13 06:47:20

Lego, taking stuff apart (old video players, clocks), read, cook/science stuff (there are book on science type cookery), invent codes (or use real codes like morse code), geocaching,

I think I would really try to find them an interest. Roller blading, scouts, pole vaulting, diving. It doesn't have sport in that full on sporty sense.

BlogOnTheTyne Sun 03-Mar-13 08:35:40

Thanks Savoy. Trouble is, DT2 isn't at all science orientated and actively dislikes things to do with technology/gadgets/ code-maths stuff. He'd be bored is faced with something to take apart. Both grew out of lego a while ago and DT2 was never into this anyway. DT1 has had some leanings towards the kind of things you mention but as his brother wouldn't participate, and as DT1 will usually never do things alone, then that's a bit of a non-starter.

The cookery thing is tricky as neither is very good around anything that burns/spills/is hot anbd DT2 has dyspraxia. This means that they'd need v close supervision and I'm desperate to find things for them that they can do without me right there all the time. So far, the only thing is PCs!

DT1 begged for roller blades about 2 yrs ago, got some, tried a few times, became too embarassed about not being any good (he could only use them if we were out and about and I was with them, as nowhere to go alone that's safe and nowhere in garden to use them) - and now hasn't touched them for about a year. DT2 could never even attempt anything involving coordination and can still barely ride a bike!

Neither would have time for scouts and DT2 would also hate this! They've never really had more than a handful of swimming lessons and again I'd have to go with them to the local baths - which I really hate anyway and supervise them in the water, as they're not competent swimmers.

Really interested to hear other suggestions, especially for boys who are not into sports but more into literacy/arts but have also now outgrown making home movies/putting on plays (they used to do this a lot with friends), making animations etc.

They seem to be stuck between childhood and more independence but just can't find anything to do without me having to be there alongside - except screens! They are fairly incompatible in interests too - again, except for screens!

ThreeBeeOneGee Sun 03-Mar-13 08:43:22

Instead of pulling them away from the screens, can you guide them towards creating something?

When DS1 was 11 he used to make endless stop-motion animation movies with Lego sets and characters. All you need is a digital camera, a tripod (he used a camera stand he made out of Lego until we bought him a gorilla pod) and some basic movie making software (he used Movie Maker). He would spend hours doing this, and the end results were often quite good.

Now he is 13 he is allowed a YouTube account, so he has bought a gaming headset and plans to make Minecraft tutorial films with a friend. The friend isn't 13 for a couple of weeks though, so they're having to wait. grin

Non-screen activities include rugby, Nerf wars and the local skate park.

ThreeBeeOneGee Sun 03-Mar-13 08:46:58

He also plays cards, and has taught the eight year old twins to play Blackjack!

The eight year old boy makes endless origami and practises close-up magic.

seeker Sun 03-Mar-13 08:58:04

Why wouldn't they have time for Scouts and how do you know they'd hate it?

My ds plays his guitar a lot, practices magic tricks, occasionally writes stories, goes out on his bike, reads. And plays Fifa. A lot!

BlogOnTheTyne Sun 03-Mar-13 09:06:09

ThreeBee, they used to do a lot of making movies and animations with various software and camcorders etc but have outgrown this, sadly.

Card games will last about 15 mins but only if I'm there playing with them, otherwise massive fights ensue! DT1 - who's NOT dyspraxic, tried origami but that only lasted a couple of days. He was also into magic for a while but had no audience or other interested party, as DT2 wasn't at all interested in that kind of thing - and has now given it up and thinks it's 'nerdy'!

You can see the problem I'm having!

DT2 DOES do creative stuff on PC - he writes copious books and plays - but this is interspersed with watching re-runs of The Simpsons etc and I really want him to stand up and get away from the screen, the same chair, the same posture all his waking hours.

DT1 has done a bit of programming but much much more of the time, just plays computer games or watched re-runs of cartoons. Occasionally, he's try to paly keyboard or piano for fun (he gave up lessons as he never practised) but as he's got a viola exam any day now that he's likely to fail, through lack of practice at all! - it's frustrating that he'll tinkle on the piano but not get the viola out of the case, without massive rows!

TBA, I think DT1 is more versatile in his interests and could/would play with other children his age a variety of things but the dynamic with DT2 (who has Asperger's) makes playdates more and more problematic these days (that's a whole other post!).

seeker Sun 03-Mar-13 09:13:46


Lynned Sun 03-Mar-13 09:19:36

I have the same trouble with mine. He reluctantly goes to Scouts, but enjoys it once he's there. I'm tying to get him to audition for the school show, he was a brother in Joseph in year 6. What about after school clubs? Martial Arts? You wouldn't have to be sporty. My dd14 spends a of time on her PC too. Sigh. It's their generation I think.

ThreeBeeOneGee Sun 03-Mar-13 09:22:39

I'm with you on the Asperger's. DS2 has no hobbies and is very resistant to any activities that don't involve playing on the computer. He does Scouts (because DH is a Scout leader) and chess club, but both at our insistence.

Once he starts secondary school, they have lots of geeky clubs there, so hopefully one or two of those will appeal to him.

How about designing and programming robots? They could make one each and then pit them against each other (assuming they're as competitive as my boys).

Labootin Sun 03-Mar-13 09:34:58

Ds is very sporty
But he is also incapable of JUST SITTING still so is always doing stuff

he creates codes, draws cartoons
Plays dungeons and dragons (endlessly) risk and monopoly , chess and backgammon(though people are refusing to play him now as he ALWAYS bloody wins)

He's also taught his (mainly devout Muslim) friends poker blush so they have a card school going during school break.

He plays COD on the wii (all his friends play it so I caved)
Rides his bike
Skateboards and builds ramps

he's started reading for pleasure (major breakthrough as he's dyslexic)
He draws maps and create alternate worlds

Tv here is awful so he'll watch the odd film (star wars, mr bean type) but the odd Simpsons episode.

Sparklingbrook Sun 03-Mar-13 09:44:53

DS is 11

He plays for a football team. This takes up all Saturday morning and Monday and Thursday evenings.

Other than that-

Fifa 13 on PS3
Playing with his diablo
Nerf Gun Wars with DS1

BlogOnTheTyne Sun 03-Mar-13 09:48:54

Re. scouts, DT2 hates the idea of organised, physically active, social groups in the outdoors, so that would be an anathema to him! He and his brother did a scout-type school club in junior school but DT2 hated it. DT1 might enjoy a lot of it but the local scout group meets till 10pm on a school night and that's impossible for DTs to fit in! They have to be up at 6am every school day and so are in bed/asleep by 9pm.

There are already 3 nights a week when one or the other does an after school club anyway, meaning we don't get in till around 5.45pm. They have so much homework that this usually fills the main part of each evening, if you also add in supper - and in any case, I also work (from home) quite a few evenings, so ferrying them around to out of school extra activities isn't possible (single mum).

DT2 isn't in the slightest interested in programming/engineering-type things, tinkering with gadgets etc. He's dyspraxic and much keener on literary pursuits. He's not the computer/chess/maths/science geeky type but the literary/history/politics type.

There are things they both USED to be into - like amateur dramatics and film-making/putitng on plays - but have grown out of these now.

Board games are really problematic as DT2 (with Aspergers) has huge difficulty with not winning but inappropriately sneers and laughs when he IS winning - so these have to be carefully planned and supervised. I really want them to be able to do things without me there!

seeker Sun 03-Mar-13 10:37:33

Wow! The sound really busy- they can't have much spare time anyway. I'd probably just let them do screen stuff to he honest- at least during term time. They must need down time.

Lynned Sun 03-Mar-13 11:09:56

Wow, it does seem like they do plenty. My Ds gets very tired at the end of a school day, and needs down time. The other thing we try to do is something together at the weekend, even if it is just a bike ride, walk, or cinema if weather is awful.

Bigwuss Sun 03-Mar-13 11:14:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BloooCowWonders Sun 03-Mar-13 11:25:36

Do they have to do the same thing? It seems that they are a unit - but could they be treated as siblings instead of twins? (Not much experience if twins so sorry if I'm offending).
So one does Scouts - one late night a week wouldn't hurt - shoot the other does a different activity ?

DottyDot Sun 03-Mar-13 11:25:37

Ds1 is 11 and he does Taekwando twice a week. Other than that it's Minecraft, wii games and Internet window shopping! When he has friends round they tend to split their time 50:50 between playing football outside and playing Minecraft/wii games inside, with the odd bit of need gun battles thrown in for good measure..!

I agree it's a tricky time this age, when they're not quite fully independent and out and about, but too old for 'games'. He's never been a keen reader but has recently got in to Robert Muchmore books and can spend 30 mind or so at a time buried in one, which is lovely to see - doesn't happen that often though!

seeker Sun 03-Mar-13 11:49:14

If they are out of the house 12 hours a day then do homework then let them relax in front of screens. Honestly.

BlogOnTheTyne Sun 03-Mar-13 12:10:46

It's really reassuring to hear that perhaps they're already doing enough to merit screen time the rest of the time. They're out of the house from 7.30am till 4.30pm minimum on school days with this extended to 5.45pm on three nights a week. So I suppose that's a lot of time away from screens.

DT1 does Kung Fu. Both do a choir and DT2 does a music ensemble - all after school. Homework can take the whole evening sometimes as they get 2 to 3 subjects a night.

Re. treating them as siblings, not twins, I've always tried to do this but what's really hard is if one has a friend round and the other doesn't. It's slightly easier if one is invited to a friend's and the other isn't but DT1 invariably gets more friendly with DT2's friends, as DT2 is increasingly struggling with social subtleties as he heads towards teenage. So if there are say 2 other children round here, they'll gravitate towards DT1 even if they were originally DT2's friends.

They rarely get invited to other people's these days and I'm not sure if this is because at 11, children are either arranging their own playdates (if you still call them that) or are now only really meeting as part of a shared structured activity. I try then to invite children round to ours but the dynamic often doesn't work at all.

It's always difficult if one is being taken round to a friend's house and the other has to sit in the cra on the way, knowing he's not invited (usually DT2) and also for the pick up journey. I don't let that stop DT1 going to a friebd's when he's invited but it's hard for DT2.

In principle, DT1 could do scouts one night a week - but that would also be camps away too - whilst DT2 sits in front of his screen at home and has to come on all the pick ups to and from Scouts for DT1, including a very late night. To be honest, 10pm is just too late for us as I'm asleep by then myself, as I often get up at 4.45am to finish off work I don't get time to do in the day! DT1 couldn't then come home and start his homework at 10pm and then be up for 6am the next day too.

All the 'normal' stuff that many boys do with their familes, like a bike ride, a woodland walk or cinema are hated by DT2 because of his Asperger's. We had a memorable family row with DT2 crying loudly in the street last summer, when I suggested we should all go for a bike ride - something that DT1 really wanted to do and DT2 didn't! DT2 hates the loudness of cinemas too!

It'd help if there were one more adult here to ferry DT1 around but it's just me. So whatever works for one - most of the time - has to work for the other.

BloooCowWonders Sun 03-Mar-13 12:18:21

I think if you asked mine (2 similar ages) they'd say they spend all their free time unloading the dishwasher...

Mine craft, iPod stuff, reading and TV (big bang theory to Cbbc) is what they do to unwind, but if I think they're too inactive I have no qualms about making them help make meals or do housework/ gardening with me or dh.

I do think you're right about playing at people's houses tailing off a bit at this age.

seeker Sun 03-Mar-13 12:18:34

Does ds2"s asperger's mean he can't be left at home alone?

Oh, and that is far too much homework for 11- I would do something about that, to be honest!

soontobeslendergirl Sun 03-Mar-13 19:45:46

I have a 12 year old and an 11 year old, both boys and as you say the weekends are the worst. During the week they do Scouts/Swimming/Judo and youngest also has a music lesson. At weekends because they are not sporty it's a bit of a trial!!

Outside is apparently "boring". I do make them go out and they go round the estate on their scooters for a bit. I also send them up to the shop/park on their scooters and give them a little money to get a drink and a packet of crisps (bribery).

Thankfully they both swim well so I drop them at the pool for a couple of hours with cash to get a hot chocolate after (bribery)

Their choice would be to spend all their time on computer or playing video games......or occasionally watching a movie with movie snacks (bribery)

We took a remote control plane to the park today and they enjoyed that for a bit - then had a bit of a throw around with a rugby ball.

We have an invisible (so it seems) trampoline that sometimes gets used.

If indoors and no screen time allowed they will usually read or draw and if they can't do that without moaning then they get some housework to do.

Oopla Mon 11-Mar-13 19:29:43

Do they listen to music?

Pinkbatrobi Mon 18-Mar-13 11:33:27

There is a thing that is very popular in the US called Zentangle - if you google it you'll find tutorials and hundreds of pictures to take inspiration from. The idea is that you doodle but following repetitive patterns, in a way that is at the same time meditative/relaxing (hence the Zen element of the name) and a great practice to develop finer motor skills (might it be good for dispraxia?) My 11yr son is quite hooked. We started doing some together, but now I bought him a sketchbook and pens and he's quite happy to chill and draw. Otherwise he loves helping me cook, abd he's now actually able to do quite a few things independently - have you tried that? (sorry I haven't read all the posts) In between he has a limited time for screens (wii, DS, minecraft etc) nerf guns wars with friends, and bothering his sister!!
Re Lego: I found loads of 'instructions' online for stuff that he could do, and choosing new things has kind of reignited his interest, which had also dipped for a any case, good luck, looks like you have a handful there!

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