The key to really nurturing your child’s interests is not pressurize them but rather supports and encourages them in a positive way. Your nurturing should fuel their passion and own unique desires for a particular pastime, sport or hobby. Interests and hobbies have endless benefits for children and we should also note there are far greater things that they are learning through the process of having a hobby.
The Benefits of Hobbies and Interests
In contrast to the children of the past this generations many children are missing out on the valuable life lessons that hobbies and personal interests provide. Besides the fun and enjoyment there are plenty of other reasons to encourage other interests.
- Build personal qualities and skills
- Help one discover oneself
- Open the world up to us
- Build self-esteem
- Give the chance for time management skills to be developed
- Enhance grit
- Develop planning and goal setting skills
- Expose our kids to other opportunities and people
10 Ways to Nurture a Child’s Interests
- Support their efforts in every way possible. This means taking them to that show, buying that book, downloading that app etc etc. Obviously this should come with a healthy dose of ‘be grateful’ and there is also that balance of supporting vs spoiling.
- Educate and involve yourself in the sphere that they are interested in. Watch YouTube clips and use google to turn yourself from novice to reasonably educated.
- Equip them with ‘tools’ that will assist their growth in the area of interest. There are many avenues to providing kids with the items they need- ask friends for unused second hand equipment, check Facebook marketplace, purchase items directly from stores or online if you are located further away. Remember that not every item needs to be the latest, best and top of the range piece of equipment when a child is exploring new interests.
- Take them to relevant stores, expos and events where they will meet people who share the same interest.
- Give them the gift of time. A schedule that has large patches of unstructured time will allow your child the chance to explore and discover more.
- Keep a tight grip on the screens. One of the biggest challenges we face is the era of screen time. The convenience, enjoyment, entertainment and all round awesomeness of screen and what they offer us is the greatest rival to our children’s active participation n the world around them. By assisting our children to have balance in this area of their lives means that they will learn to do the same for themselves and in doing so will allow them the space to develop other interests.
- Hold the interest lightly. Yes you have sacrificed your energy, time and money for this hobby and then your child decides to quit. Besides the parenting moments of sticking something out, grit and commitment remember that your child is still exploring things and they should have the freedom to move from one interest to another with out undue pressure or parental disappointment.
- Remember it is not about competition or achieving. Keep the emphasis on fun, exploration, discovery and enjoyment. These will fuel the passion and not quench the fire.
- Listen to your child. Often they will ‘lead’ the way in the next steps they would like to take in a particular hobby. for example: Asking you to attend a holiday hockey clinic.
- Spend time doing the hobby together. Perhaps bird-watching is not really something you enjoy or have any clue about but your child enjoys it. Mae sure you sweep your own ideas aside and engage with them by taking a keen interest in their interests and not just lumping yours on them!
Let us commit as ourselves to take the time to stop, listen and support our kids in their experimenting, discovering and exploring of the things that interest them! I am convinced this is worth it!