Three Strength-based Steps to Help Your Child Choose a Hobby

There’s nothing in the books that say you have to choose a hobby that you’re good at, but there’s good reasons to choose a hobby that utilizes your strengths. Hobbies are defined as an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation. Hobbies are for passing the time in a pleasant way. When we have a free moment (for parents is it any longer?), we look to things that bring us joy and a sense of accomplishment. DIY projects, gardening, video games. Kids need that joy and sense of accomplishment, too. Kid

Using your strengths to accomplish a goal in work or play brings not only joy but confidence. It can stir that intrinsic motivation to continue even when faced with some obstacles because the strengths are utilized first. Its like putting your best foot forward. In this way, obstacles are looked at as challenges that are easier to overcome. In life, that can go a long way.

There are three principles to keep in mind when considering a hobby. I say principles because there are no strict rules to adhere to. There’s a lot of room to move within these principles and you’ll see what I mean as I explain.

1) When helping your child choose a hobby, look to the things that s/he already enjoys. Those are probably areas where your child has strengths. I’m not going to tell you to give them an assessment on multiple intelligences to find his or her strengths. I’m not going to advice you to stick to things that match his or her learning style. You can look those up as they can be enlightening and helpful, but not necessary. You, the parent, are the best person to assess the strength of your child. Look for the school subjects they do well in and enjoy. Or at home, look for the areas in which they spend the most time: dress-up or arts and crafts or legos or is there something else? If your child likes being outside, is it nature that s/he enjoys or physical activity? Do they like singing or dancing to music?

2) A shared interest is an added bonus. Chances are, you will share an interest (or two) with your kid. My husband is the gamer, not me, so he introduced our older son to the original Super Mario Bros. My son’s interest was piqued, but it was too difficult for a 4 year old. I’m glad Mario Kart was available since that was much easier to maneuver and gave him a sense of accomplishment. So now they share that interest and have gone on to pass the time with other games. The advice here is to keep in mind the level of ability and look for stepping stones into a hobby when necessary.

BI_driftwood beach_bird watching with binoculars3) Knowing your child also means keeping an eye out for little clues that could be useful. A friend of my older son loves being outside. He loves swimming and basketball. I’m pretty sure he’s picked his hobbies already. My son isn’t that good at basketball, but I realized that he picked up how to throw a Frisbee quickly. We will be attempting to officially learn disc golf this year. Knowing my son, the gamer, he’ll be all for that. That’s the type of things you can look for. This gives kids the notion that its ok not to be as good at what his friends may be good at because there is something he can do well in the same area. Sports is a wide field and they all give many benefits, but you don’t have to stick with the usual fields. Consider this: A child with a good ear can learn to play an instrument, but can also be a good bird watcher, recognizing bird calls. Branching out would give you and your kids a chance to find your niche so-to-speak.

There are many kids whose interests will vary greatly and others whose interests may even change over time. Stay flexible and allow them the opportunity to find out what lights their fire. Ultimately, its their choice. That is why the first principle is about what the child enjoys on his or her own. Kids need that especially if they are going through stressful situations or even having trouble in that one subject in school. Give your kids a boost in confidence by getting them involved in a hobby that uses their strengths.

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