Hobbies bring countless benefits to children, teens, and their parents — and not just because they keep kids busy and out of trouble. Rather, hobbies enrich children’s lives in deep, lasting ways, from improved self-image to improved grades. Don’t believe it? Here are a few ways that a hobby can keep your children happy, healthy, and productive.
● Goal-setting skills: If they want to be successful in their hobby, it’s up to your kids to set goals for growth. This is a stark contrast from school which uses deadlines and grades to keep students on track. When they’re the commander of their own ship, kids will develop goal-setting skills that they can take into school and beyond.
● Problem-solving skills: A child learning and growing in a hobby will inevitably face challenges. And since hobbies are a self-directed activity, they’ll be in charge of finding ways to overcome the obstacles in their path. By finding creative solutions on their own, kids will develop valuable problem-solving skills.
● Self-expression: As schools are feeling the pressure of standardized testing and budget constraints, creative programs like art, music, and even science are being cut from curricula in favor of focus on reading and mathematics. Since it’s becoming harder for students to find opportunities for self-expression in school, it’s more important than ever for kids to have extracurricular hobbies that let them explore their interests and develop their unique personalities.
● Confidence: Hobbies give children something they’re good at, even if they’re struggling with school or other responsibilities. Having an outlet that provides a sense of accomplishment can be an incredible confidence builder. With luck, that self-assurance will translate into improved performance in the classroom.
● Friendship: What better way to bond than over shared interests? Hobbies are a great way for kids to make friends that last beyond the school year. And when kids make friends through positive activities, they’re less likely to end up a troublesome social circle.
● Stress relief: If you’re an adult reading this, you’re probably wondering how kids could possibly need stress relief. But even if the problems of youth seem trivial to you now, they can seem like the world to an adolescent who is actively coping with them. By offering something fun, relaxing, and rewarding to look forward to at the end of the day, hobbies can boost mental health in kids and teens.
Now that you know all the great things that a hobby can do for your children’s growth, you’re probably wondering how you can lead your kids to a hobby they’ll love.
If your child has shown interest in a particular topic, say astronomy or baking, consider ways to turn that interest into a lasting activity. A budding baker could explore new recipes and start selling baked goods to raise money, while a love of the stars could become a hobby of learning constellations and building a DIY telescope. If budget is a concern, work with your children to brainstorm ways they can raise money to buy supplies.
Some kids may immediately gravitate toward one activity and stick with it for years, while others might dabble in countless hobbies before finding one that clicks. No matter the situation, offer nonjudgmental support to children’s interests as they arise. If you can, look for ways to relate to their hobby — working alongside your child and getting involved in their interests is a wonderful way to strengthen the parent-child bond.
Whatever you do, don’t force children into hobbies they’re not passionate about. If you push your children into activities they don’t enjoy, it could attach negative emotions to hobbies in general and make it harder to find something they do want to commit to. Be careful to not overschedule your kids’ time: The ideal hobby is one a child pursues of his or her own volition, and it’s still important for kids to have unstructured downtime.
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