Finding Healthy Interests For Your Child

I know many adults who attest to the fact that being involved in sports or some activity that kept them busy and engaged, also kept them out of trouble and on track for continuing education. Some go as far as to say that their activities kept them out of jail or saved their lives. Studies show that kids who are involved in sports or other activities have better organizational skills, and higher grades. They are also less likely to drop out of school, drink, or do drugs. Every child is good at something, and we are doing a disservice if we don’t help them find that thing that makes them sparkle.

Find Their Thing

Kids need opportunities to try a lot of different things before they can be expected to focus on one. I can’t imagine a young child knowing for certain that they want to play a certain instrument or take dance rather than karate without first having some experience with other options. At a very young age, it may be enough that their friends are doing an activity to make it appealing to a child. As they grow and learn and perhaps excell, they may discover that they have found something they really enjoy, are good at and feel passionate about. That is their thing. Once a child figures it out, it is a confidence booster, and gives a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment, often, even joy!

Have High Expectations

When a child commits to a team or to taking a class, make sure they understand that they are expected to live up to their commitment. Kids who don’t feel like anybody expects them to succeed or complete anything, often don’t bother to see things through. We all have to do things that aren’t 100% fun, and it’s good to learn at a young age that life is about meeting challenges head on. Kids who face challenges and persevere end up with higher self esteem than those that never try.

Two At A Time

The magic number seems to be two when it comes to activities for a child. More than that, and they can end up overwhelmed and frustrated.  Too many activities would also be a lot for a parent, especially if there is more than one child.  You’d be driving constantly.

Let Them Dabble

Just because a child plays soccer one yea,r doesn’t mean that is her sport for life.  If she wants to try volleyball or field hockey the following year encourage it. She will never know where her true strengths are until she tries many things and has a base for comparison. Just because something was your favorite as a child doesn’t mean your child will have any skill or interest in it. Try not to be disappointed. If the child enjoys something but isn’t good at it, you should still continue to encourage her involvement. The fun factor is important in finding something she is passionate about.

Show An Interest

Beyond being the chauffeur and sherpa, hauling your child and her equipment around, you should also be her biggest cheerleader. Without putting on added pressure, let your child know how proud you are, not just of her achievements, but of anything she does to develop her interests, like artwork, or learning new songs.

Alexandra Kelly is a dedicated mother and school teacher who has experience helping her children find productive ways to spend their time. She loves to write and covers a broad range of topics from parenting tips to advice for writing solid college essays.

Photo Credit: dannotti

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