From the time your children are born, they have a knack for finding activities they love. From toddlers who start dancing the second they hear music to preschoolers who spend hours shaping Play-Doh into animals and bowls, young children are good at discovering what they love to do. Unfortunately, as kids get a bit older and into formal school settings, they can start to lose this knack for exploration and creativity. Thankfully, there are many ways that you can encourage your children to keep exploring their interests and passions.
Expose Them to a Variety of Activities
One of the best ways you can help your children discover their passions is to take them to a huge range of events, places and activities. Your son may not know if he’s into art if he has never been to a museum or a drawing class, and your daughter may be a budding soccer star, so take her to a professional game or sign her up for a youth league. If their school offers extracurricular activities, encourage them to sign up for at least one thing that interests them.
Let Them Lead the Way
Some parents believe that all kids start T-ball at 4, piano at 8 and soccer at 10. Instead of picking the activities yourself, ask your kiddos what they want to do and allow for some experimentation. Maybe the son who you thought would love the piano actually wants to take swimming lessons.
It’s also important to let your kids decide to stop doing certain activities, within a reasonable amount of time. If your daughter announces that she wants to quit ice skating lessons, ask her why and have a discussion about it. If she consistently expresses that she doesn’t like the activity anymore, allow her to stop after the current round of lessons are over.
Share Their Enthusiasm
If your son wants to spend all of his free time painting and your daughter is obsessed with building Lego sets, share their enthusiasm and join in on the fun. At the same time, realize that these interests may be fleeting. While you might think that you have a Picasso or Frank Lloyd Wright on your hands, by next month they may be all about science and ceramics — and that’s OK. The message you want to instill in your kids is that you love it when they are passionate about something and you share in their delight. This lets your kids know that it’s OK to pursue new interests and hobbies.
Give Them the Right Tools
When your kids clearly show a passion for certain activities, spend some time and money investing in the supplies and gear they need to succeed. While you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars buying your 4-year-old daughter a giant art kit and professional easel, do try to provide her with what she needs to pursue her interests. For example, if your son loves everything about skateboarding, buy him the right accessories, such as skater shoes, pads and a helmet. These basic tools and accessories enable them to give their current passion a good try.