How to encourage kids’ hobbies
by Melissa Brodsky
When you encourage your kids’ hobbies, you do so much more than just help them have a little fun. You demonstrate your interest in them and your respect of their individuality.
You also encourage learning, healthy self-expression, and natural methods of stress relief. You might even help them develop skills and talents that last a lifetime. Here are four practical ways to encourage your kids’ hobbies:
Set a Good Example
As a parent, you probably encourage your children to develop healthy habits, even if you don’t always follow suit. The fact of the matter is, however, that your children are far more likely to take your suggestions to heart if they actually see you modeling that behavior.
Though you may be tired and busy, make at least some time for a hobby you enjoy. Not only will it give your kids something to aspire to, but it will also enrich your life.
Take an Interest
No matter how much your child may enjoy a hobby, there will be times he won’t want anything to do with it, such as when the weather is bad; when he’s cranky, tired, or hungry; or when he’s come up against an obstacle of some sort. Though your kids might not always show it, your encouragement means the world to them and can provide the extra push they need to keep going.
Make time to attend hobby-related events, praise your child’s efforts and talents, brag about him to others (this may simultaneously embarrass and secretly please him). Be sure to let him know it’s okay to take a break too. Sometimes walking away for a bit and going back later to approach a challenge from a new angle leads to rejuvenated interest.
Set Reasonable Limits
There are multitudes of activities and hobbies that may interest your kids. But there are only so many hours in the day and so much in the family budget for financing it all. Though your child may want to try everything, it’s important to limit her hobbies so that she still has time for homework, chores, family, friends, and downtime (Yes, that’s important too!). If you fail to do so, she may suffer from burnout and not want to do much of anything.
Agree to a Trial Period
You don’t want to stifle your child’s interests or render him stuck in a hobby he doesn’t truly enjoy. As such, it may prove beneficial to set a trial period for each new hobby. Tell your kid he has to participate for the trial period (maybe several weeks) and then reevaluate whether he wants to make a longer-term commitment or move on to something else. Keep your investment minimal during the trial so that you won’t end up with tons of expensive equipment that no one ever uses.
Keep in mind that television and other electronic distractions can interfere with your child’s immediate interest in developing a new hobby. Your support might begin with a little gentle redirection towards less passive pursuits.
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