This week we celebrate March Forth and Do Something Day…why was this unofficial holiday created? Mainly because when you say the date, March 4th, aloud, it sounds like March Forth; an expression that can be used to convey an action or moving forward. So, in thinking about this holiday, today I thought I would talk about starting a new hobby.

We’ve been with COVID for almost a year now. I’m sure many of you have baked bread, tie-dyed clothing, made Dalgona coffee or become a TikTok family, participating in challenges. But all these activities seem to have come and gone like many fads do. Has anything stuck with you?  Have you developed a new hobby? Has your child?

Hobbies, no matter how fleeting they are, can actually have a significant impact on a child’s development. Not only do they nurture a child’s interest, but they can help a child develop emotionally, physically, and mentally. Hobbies can help a child relax, discover new talents, build self-esteem, feel a sense of accomplishment, and share their achievements with others.

So how can you help your child find a new hobby? Below are some tips on encouraging your child to develop new hobbies:

  • Observe your child’s interests / Make a list of your child’s interests.

Talk to your child or watch them while they play. Is there a particular theme to their play? Do they tend to participate in activities involving music? Do they ‘cook’ for their babies? Are there particular TV shows that they watch that have specific themes? What grabs their interest?

  • Encourage your child to try new things.

Depending on the personality of your child, trying new things can be exciting, fun, frightening or challenging. Expose your child to a variety or activities, whether they are things you know how to do or not. How will your child know if they enjoy it until they try it? Remind your child that it takes time to learn new things. We can’t all be exceptional at everything all the time. It is through our failures and mistakes that we learn and grow. Teach your child to focus on their own accomplishments within the activity rather than comparing themselves to others.

  • Try a hobby before committing / Take kids to introductory classes.

It may be a little more challenging today with COVID restrictions, but the best way to test out an activity or hobby is to enroll your child in an introductory course. This not only gives your child the chance to learn the basics of the activity, but it also gives them the opportunity to meet other kids that are also interested in the same things. Most courses run about 10 sessions long, so it can give your child a glimpse of the activity. If they enjoy it, there are most likely more involved sessions to enroll them in.

  • Celebrate achievements, even the ones that may seem small and expected.

When a child is learning to do something, remember it is the FIRST time they are trying to do it. To you, kicking a ball may seem second nature, but this is a skill that children need to learn to do…and let me tell you something, not all children can do it. The same can be said of playing the guitar. The mere act of using your left hand to create a chord while strumming the strings with your right hand can be very difficult for some. Using both hands in opposition…these things need to be learned. And kids are so proud when they have accomplished it. Remember to celebrate these accomplishments.

  • Remember this is their hobby, not yours / Know when it’s time to let them move to another hobby.

Your child may be a fantastic athlete that would excel in any sport, but they really gravitate more toward crocheting scarves. As a child you LOVED sports and would have killed to have your kid’s talent. Please try not to relive your childhood through your child. Just because a child is good at something does not mean they enjoy doing it. Follow their lead. If they would rather crochet than play on a soccer team, that’s ok. Be supportive of your child and their interests.

  • Find Activities that will evolve with them.

The wonderful thing about many hobbies is that they evolve as your child grows. Take playing the piano. When you begin to play you learn the basics: vocabulary associated with notes, sheet music, which keys are which notes, finger placement, etc. As you continue to learn you play more challenging pieces that require skill. The same can be said of sports, crafting or cooking. You start by learning the basics of the activity and as time goes on you are given more opportunities to master more advanced skills.

I know that we as parents think we have to sign our kids up for all sorts of activities and sports and classes. Try to remember, you have years to get your kids involved in different activities. Today they may want to play soccer, while tomorrow they want to dance. Some activities and hobbies will stay with them into adulthood and some interests will be gone by the end of the summer.

Take your time. Introduce your kids to activities one or two at a time. Remember they are growing, and their interests will likely change over time. But don’t worry, there will always be something new to try. 😊