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Helping Children Find Interests They Love

Parents play a huge role in their children’s growth and development. That doesn’t mean you should map out your child’s career path beginning at birth. Instead, use these starting points to give your child’s interests a nudge:

Pay Attention to Hobbies and Interests

What he thinks about and how he spends his free time can be indications of which interests and possibly future career will be most satisfying.

  • Does she gravitate toward complex toy models that take hours to construct? She may have a mind for engineering.
  • Do his hobbies all involve some form of creative self-expression, whether through music, art or crafting? The liberal arts might be calling his name.
  • Is she always coming up with clever solutions to problems or surprising you with unusual perspectives on a difficult topic? Her analytical mind may find mathematics or philosophy fun.
Encourage Experiences
Schedule trips to museums, farms, factories, nature reserves, historical sites—anything that supports learning about the world beyond your home. Sign him up for dance, soccer, music lessons, pottery or creative writing. These experiences will help him refine his interests and skills and promote self-knowledge. Getting involved at school may mean getting ahead. Researchers at the University of Nebraska found that teenagers who participated in extracurricular activities achieved higher GPAs and rates of school attendance than their peers who did not participate.

Have Open Conversations
Don’t have an agenda during these talks. The goal of open talks is simply to provide space for your child to put words to thoughts and explore his interests through verbal expression. You may stumble on a topic or idea that causes him to become visibly excited, which can be a revealing moment for both of you.

For additional information about raising healthy, happy children, check out medlineplus.gov/parenting.html.

A study published in the Journal of Personality found that kids whose parents were over-involved in their free-time activities had an unhealthier relationship with those pursuits. Children who were given autonomy to develop their own hobbies were much more likely to feel their pastimes corresponded with their true desires and passions.

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