Interests give meaning to life – this principle not only applies to adults but also to the youngest children. In the case of children, pursuing their interests may become an excellent way to drive their development at the very least, and in some cases even lead to a bright and professional future. This is why it is so important to support your offspring in following their interests. Today we have some tips on how to do it wisely.
When should you start?
As soon as possible! Just be careful not to treat the matter too seriously. Young children are unfamiliar with such notions as ‘ambition,’ ‘pursuing one’s goals’ or ‘the future.’ They simply want to learn more about the world and themselves. They test, experiment, and refuse to give up. And this is what it is all about! For young children, searching for pastimes should be fun and entail only pleasant emotions. Honestly, this is what it should be like for our whole life.
Let us also remember that parents in love with their offspring may see them as exceptionally talented in the area of music, art, sports or otherwise. This is completely normal – we want to be proud of our children and take joy in any sign that they are exceptional! On the other hand, when young children suddenly become interested in a topic or a skill, this is very often connected with a natural developmental milestone the child is experiencing at that moment. The fact that a two-year-old child is thumping to the rhythm of the music we play does not have to mean that we are raising a young Ringo Starr. And there is nothing wrong with that! Dancing together in the middle of the room is still an excellent pretext for a developing play. It means little but on another level so much!
Why is to so important to develop the child’s interests!
Let us start by saying that it is always good to develop interests, whether we are 4 or 94. For children and teenagers, pursuing their pastimes tremendously reinforces and accelerates their intellectual, emotional and social growth. So if you want your children to be fulfilled, happy and able to reach for what is best for them (and every parent does), start to encourage them to develop their interests in their early childhood.
The benefits of pursuing one’s interests during childhood and adolescence:
How can you support your children in pursuing their interests and dreams?
Watch you children as they play or carry out their daily activities. If you notice that they are especially fit and like sports, you may consider enrolling them in football or athletics classes. Do they spend hours choosing their outfits and are also quite good at drawing? Perhaps you can encourage them to design their own clothes?
This is probably one of the most important pieces of advice. Parents often tend to project their own interests, passions and ambitions onto their children. Avoid this. Remember that the child’s commitment should come from within. Our only task is to support our children in making their dreams come true. Their dreams.
To be able to discover their passion or their calling, children need to be able to try many different things. And this is the job for parents. Take your children to interesting places, such as theatres, cinemas and museums. Travel – even if just locally. Go to swimming pools, sports games, concerts. Read books, boost the children’s imagination, and expand their horizons.
Children need positive reinforcement and praise. This builds their self-esteem, teaches them to respect their own achievements and motivates them to work more. However, constructive criticism may be useful too. This is absolutely not about disheartening the children but about gently bringing them down to earth when their excessive boldness and confidence poses a problem and is a sign of possible future disillusionment.
The younger the child, the more passing their interests may be. Older children may change their mind after attempting something. Do not approach the pastimes of your children categorically and definitively. Let them freely seek something of their own.
As long as it does not negatively affect the health and development of your child, every pastime is wonderful. You do not have to understand or share it. Simply show your interest and never mock or disregard your children’s hobbies.
Your support is invaluable, especially if you see that your child has a real talent and a chance at achievements in a particular area. Developing a pastime may in time be transformed into a lifestyle, but this is a long and arduous road, where extra motivation is always appreciated. This includes getting up at 5 in the morning for swimming practice or not giving up on the piano, even though watching Netflix may seem more tempting than practising. It all depends on the individual character of the child. Some children are too ambitious and too determined. They must be taught to relax and let go a little, otherwise the ambition may take away their childhood joy.
By tackling several activities at once it can be hard to get anything right. This is also a good lesson for adulthood. So although the stage of searching and experimenting is incredibly important, a choice needs to be made at some point. Make sure your children do not spread themselves too thin, and refrain from burdening them with too many activities. Have them choose one or two, and let them commit.
History is full of cases of genius children who broke under pressure on their way to greatness or who failed in their adult lives. A pastime should primarily bring joy and pleasure, be a refuge from daily life and an opportunity for self-growth. When it starts to dominate over school, family and friends, it loses all its benefits and becomes a destructive obsession. Help your child maintain all the right proportions.