Adults often look at a child’s hobby as just a time filler. To children, however, hobbies are wonderful things that combine fun with a serious sense of achievement. Hobbies help develop facets of a child’s personality that education and a traditional upbringing often neglect. A hobby might give your child life skills that could transform their future or become their true calling.
Let’s see how you can contribute towards honing your child’s hobbies:
The First Step – Inspiration: A child learns and does a lot by imitation. If you show your child an activity, they probably will try it out. They might enjoy it for a while but then might choose to abandon it. Don’t despair! Let your child explore and discover what it is that they love doing. Let them fail and give up. Let them stumble and come up with childish and even bewildering outcomes. That’s what hobbies are for. Hobbies allow children to try things out without the fear of being scored or compared.
Just ensure they have lots of material for inspiration around them like great TV or internet hobby shows, inspiring friends or relatives, activity clubs or summer workshops. Any or all of these experiences can trigger your child on a path of their own.
Think Sandbox, Not Menu: Instead of running your child through a laundry list of hobbies, give them the opportunity to pick and shape what they want to do. Remember that aptitude and interest are very different things. With hobbies, especially at an early age, let interest be the driving force. Aptitude can be developed, but a child will genuinely enjoy a hobby only if they are interested in it.
You can create a hobby sandbox. Drawing and coloring materials, clay or woodcraft materials, lego blocks, scrapbooks, musical instruments, sports equipment, gardening implements, DIY kits… you get the idea! Make the materials available. Expose your child to demonstrations or experiences of how these things can be used. And then let them do their thing. You never know what new hobby they might discover or even invent!
What If Nothing Works? If your child is indecisive or uninterested, that’s perfectly fine! You might not realize it, but your child’s hobby might be to spend time with people and learn from that. Your child might be using playtime to spin entire worlds in their heads.
Talk to them and get them to talk about what it is they like to do. Eventually, you will see patterns in their thoughts, actions, and speech that will give you clues about what activities they might enjoy. You can introduce these activities as a natural part of their playtime.
Over time, your child might start using these activities as a medium of expression. Or they might completely ignore the activity. Again, that’s alright. Just try again another time. You never know what might work.
Dilettante Hobbyist: Your child might be a dabbler or a dilettante. They might constantly be in the mode of discovering something new, trying it out for a while and then moving on. That’s not a problem or failure. That’s a personality type. It’s not Attention Deficit Disorder either. Your child might just like trying out new things. Or they might be looking for that one special hobby.
If you have a child who dabbles, you need to be prepared for it. Spend smartly while still providing your child with the materials and opportunities they need to explore their latest interest. Most importantly, don’t stop taking them seriously. The weekly interest or monthly-hobby trend might get tiring, but this is a sequence of new experiences that is making your child a unique and interesting individual.
Serious Hobbies: You might discover that your child is really good at something or really competitive. This is where hobbies can get serious. In such cases, your child’s hobby might have significant time and cost implications for you. My nephew started playing squash two years ago and has already reached the national competitive level. Since he is just 11 years old, at least one of his parents needs to accompany him to all the tournaments across the country. His equipment and coaching are also very expensive.
This is one of those stories where a hobby can blossom into an amazing child prodigy success story. If your child has the talent and drive, all that remains to make that happen is your unconditional support. Remember that your child’s hobby is going to be only as serious or joyful as you allow it to be.
Hobbies can be amazing. They can be fun and make for some of your child’s most memorable experiences. They can also be those a-ha moments where life suddenly starts making sense. Just remember to enjoy your child’s hobbies as much as possible!
Radhika Anand Kale is a learning and content design consultant. After years of working a stressful office life, she now enjoys working from home in her pajamas with a cat on either side. She loves learning and loves helping others learn.