When children find a meaningful hobby that interests
them, it can benefit them socially, physically and mentally.
Many hobbies involve group activities that help children meet and interact with
different teachers and people their age, and in settings different from their
home, child care center or typical surroundings. They also give children the
chance to try new activities, find new interests and build upon what they
naturally love to do.
At a younger age, hobbies such as library story
groups or gymnastics classes allow parents to ease their children into simple
activities that can stimulate their early reading skills, balance and
coordination. As children grow older and gain more confidence and independence,
advanced hobbies such as soccer or softball offer physical education, muscle
development and hand/eye coordination benefits, while activities like drama
classes can provide memorization skills and experience speaking in front of
large groups of people.
Prominent educators agree that parents play important
roles in their children’s choices, so helping them pick a valuable hobby can
have lasting benefits on their personal growth.
It does not matter if a parent is a star athlete, their child might
prefer painting or drama to sports. The key is to know that every child has
different interests and to help them learn about themselves and how they want
to spend their free time.
The following tips can help children discover
- Have open
conversations with your child about what he likes doing for fun or wants
to learn more about, and then do some research to see what is available in your
area. Local recreation centers typically offer a variety of sports activities,
while private companies can offer drama, art or book club classes. Reach out to
other parents and find out what their children are enrolled in – it could offer
you new ideas or let you know about a local service you otherwise did not know
- Ask your
child to pick the top-five activities s/he would be interested in
and then work together to write out a list of pros and cons for each. Make sure
to note the days of the week each activity meets and account for potential
family scheduling conflicts. This comparison will help your child learn responsibility,
gain experience weighing decisions and feel that she is part of the process to
choose her hobby.
- Be sure to sign your child up for a manageable activities list.
If he is coming home from a long day at school and/or in child care, it might
not be reasonable for your child to be playing a sport and taking piano lessons
in the same season. Limit activities to allow maximum enjoyment and minimal
stress for you and your child.
- If your child
starts a class-based or team hobby and wants to quit before it is done, try to
base your response on his age. Younger children sometimes take longer to
warm up to activities than older children. If your child is young and new to
the activity, let him know he doesn’t have to do it again but he will need to
finish the full session for his next hobby. With an older child, explain the
importance of making a commitment and the fact that his class or teammates are
depending on him. This will help your child learn accountability and avoid
setting a precedence that it is acceptable to start and quit activities on an
supportive. If you invest time with your child to choose a hobby and they feel
excited and committed to the activity, be as enthusiastic and
encouraging as possible. Engage her in regular discussion of what she is
learning along the way, what her favorite parts are and the improvements you
have seen her make. Taking an active interest will keep you both engaged along