Encouraging your child to engage in a hobby not only lets you steal away for some personal time, but also gives your child a chance to develop his self-esteem and keep himself entertained. Child psychologist Kenneth N. Condrell, Ph.D., suggests on the Fisher Price website that parents observe their children to determine what hobbies would most interest them, and assist them in pursuing these creative and worthwhile endeavors.
Arts and Crafts
Occupational therapist Lauren Weichman, with North Shore Pediatric Therapy in Illinois, states that arts and crafts are beneficial to children for many reasons. Arts and crafts help younger children strengthen their fine motor skills and bilateral coordination -- or the ability to use both hands together. All children can boost their self-esteem and learn self-control and patience, adds Weichman. Younger children can be encouraged to draw images of animals, princess wear or pictures of their friends. Older children can learn to make beaded jewelry, baskets, intricate paper planes and other paper crafts, puppets and countless other crafts. If you notice your child likes to work with her hands and is very creative, you might want to plan a trip for the two of you to visit your local hobby store.
If you notice that your child likes to throw or kick items in the home -- whether they're made for such handling or not -- you might think to redirect this behavior and put it to more constructive use. Get your child a football, soccer ball, tennis racket or other pieces of sports equipment to see which is the better fit, or ask her if she's interested in learning a particular sport. If your child is committed to playing for a season, visit your local recreation center to sign her up for team sports. Encouraging your child to participate in sports activities is good for her physical health -- including acting as a protective measure against drug and alcohol use -- and encourages academic achievement, says orthopaedic surgeon Dr. David Geier, Jr. M.D.
Collecting items can open up a whole new world for your child. The Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies website notes numerous benefits your child can gain from starting her own collection. Having a collection tells a story, says the Smithsonian's website, and allows your child to collect items that have special meaning for her. Your child also benefits by having the opportunity to share her collection with others, which will make her more interesting to her friends, notes Condrell. If you had a collection as a child -- or still have one -- ask your child if she'd be interested in joining you as a collector. If you notice that your child has the tendency to collect dolls or sports cards, ask what you could do to help her enhance her personal collection.
Perhaps you've realized you have a little ballerina, comedian or actor on your hands; if so, you can help your child cultivate her tendency towards the performing arts. If your little one enjoys singing, encourage her to hone her skills in front of a mirror while holding a hairbrush as a microphone to start. If she desires more formal training in her chosen hobby, contact your local arts council or private instructor for lessons. The North Carolina Arts Council website says exposure to the arts has numerous benefits for your child, including a reinforcement of classroom lessons, comprehension of the creative process and development of critical thinking skills. Allow your child to determine the level of intensity she applies to working on her performance arts hobby. Don't push her to seriously pursue any hobby if she only wants to have fun with it.
- Fisher Price: Kids' Hobbies: More than Just a Way to Pass the Time
- North Shore Pediatric Therapy: Five Developmental Benefits of Arts and Crafts
- Dr. David Geier: The Benefits of Physical Sports Aren't Just Physical
- Smithsonian Kids: Collecting: About Collecting
- North Carolina Arts Council: Dramatic Performance: Benefits of Early Arts Exposure
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