Some children have a variety of interests. Others seem to fixate on one thing, be it dinosaurs or the last movie they saw. Or they may try to make their lives all about a single sport or a hobby. While this is normal, you want to help your children explore the world so they can find out what else they like and are good at. Here are a few tips on helping your child cultivate diverse hobbies and interests.
Know Your Child’s Interests
Don’t push your kids toward certain activities because it is popular, convenient or what a parenting guru said all kids should be doing. Understand your child’s unique interests. Then help them find a variety of activities related to that interest. Then you’ll avoid unnecessary conflict because you’re trying to push them into something they don’t care about or don’t want to do.
A lot of kids try something once and give up due to unrealistic expectations. Children often think that they can’t do it or shouldn’t continue doing it if they aren’t naturally great at it.
Explain to your children that practice is required to develop a talent. A love of music plus practice can make a great musician. Tell them that they shouldn’t fear to make mistakes because that’s part of the learning process. Now they’re more willing to try something and keep going though they didn’t get it right the first time.
Ask Them to Choose Two
Too many parents actually take things to the extreme. They are taking their kids to various events and activities, never exploring each in depth. A secondary consequence is that it gets in the way of having a healthy routine, and it can hurt your child’s grades.
The solution is to balance activities out. If your child is fixated on something, ask them to pick a second hobby or activity that’s unrelated. That means a child who is in dance or football shouldn’t choose another sport. This may be too physically demanding. However, they could take up an instrument, start art lessons or study the science of their choice. If your child wants to take up a new activity, they have to choose which of the current ones to drop.
Introduce New Hobbies
Your child may not have additional hobbies because they don’t know that these options exist. And know that you don’t have to focus on structured activities like team sports and classes. You could introduce your children to knitting, cooking, model building, and collecting – unstructured hobbies that require little supervision.
Collecting is a great hobby because you don’t have to do much beyond a little research and decide what you want. Your child may not know that chibi style Nendoroids or other figurines based on their favorite characters exist. A side benefit of giving them hobbies they can pursue on their own like this is that it breaks parents of the habit of hovering over their children.
Give Kids Downtime
Overscheduled children are highly stressed. They also have less mental energy left when they do have free time. This results in less creativity, exploration, and curiosity. The solution is to give your kids time in the evening and weekends where there is nothing scheduled. Let them read, watch TV and ask questions. They may come up with things to do on their own or ask to try something new. Most children can find activities they enjoy and are good at if you give them the opportunity. Understand that it is a mix of nature (what they’re naturally good at), and nurture (what you cultivate), that will lead to long-term success.