Is your kid always 'in the zone'? That's likely a mental health boost.

How becoming totally absorbed in a task can help children flourish

For seven-year-old Emme, it’s all about the dragons.

In the midst of the pandemic, Emme was bored—a sentiment she expressed freely and frequently. “Once she discovered dragons, it’s like she came to life again,” says Lizzie Goodman, a mother of two in Illinois. Emme would disappear in her room for hours, creating an encyclopedia of the creatures, full of detailed backstories and anatomical diagrams. “I’ll ask her to go upstairs and get changed, and then she’ll get sucked into this play,” Goodman laughs. “And I’ll have to pull her out and be like, ‘Come back.’”

Before her dragon discovery, Emme was likely experiencing what experts have dubbed “languishing.”  “You’re not depressed,” clarifies Jeffrey Froh, a professor of psychology at Hofstra University, “but you’re definitely not functioning optimally.” And Emme is far from alone. Michelle Harris, a licensed clinical social worker based in New York and founder of Parenting Pathfinders, says that she’s seen more kids experiencing low motivation and difficulty focusing since the start of the pandemic.

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