Why Children’s hobbies are so important
The definition of a hobby is
A hobby is meant to be a hobby
When your child takes up something new it is exciting for us parents. You begin to see their true personality and individuality. Then when a child starts getting better at it the excitement leads us to believe that it is something we should push and encourage. This is a natural, healthy reaction as we just want the best opportunities for our children and their future success, but we need to take heed.
By definition, a hobby is a pleasurable, leisure activity, so as soon as we put pressure on a child, we run the risk of taking the pleasure out of it. Once the pleasure has gone the hobby no longer appeals. As adults, we know this to be true. As soon as something HAS to be done then it suddenly seems harder and less enjoyable.
Children have so much pressure on them from education – to pass exams, be constantly striving to be better at everything and to do their best. Sometimes they need to relax without the nagging feeling that they have to be achieving and this is where children’s hobbies are so important particularly as they get older. There should be no other reason to do it other than the pleasure it gives. If your child is lucky enough to have a true hobby that helps them relax, they have more chance of coping.
Children’s hobbies are about choice and freedom
Many children are drawn to a musical instrument or a sport. We see them show interest and then we want them to be good. But this is their chosen ‘thing’ and they don’t HAVE to be good. They just need to enjoy it. If you introduce formal practice and nerve-wracking assessments, they may go off it. The ones left to their own devices often do better. Once they have mastered the art and become certain this is the hobby for them, there is plenty of time to take the necessary exams should they need them later on. At least then they will be doing it out of choice and for their own benefit.
It’s the lazy parents dream!
Ironically if a child is left to enjoy their chosen hobby they usually become efficient at it pretty quickly. They are actually more likely to practice and stick with it long-term. My son played piano from age 12 years but he hated taking grades. He loathed the idea of practicing the same pieces over and over again to pass an exam – boring! As I am a lazy parent and always take the quickest and easiest route (and as it wasn’t part of his school curriculum), I was happy for him to do this. Encouraging a reluctant child to learn is exhausting!
He loved his lessons so much he eventually decided to study music at university, using his piano as his main instrument. Admission required proof of ability so he simply took the necessary grade before he applied, but avoided any grades throughout his learning process. I am sure this is the main reason he persisted and became so proficient.
Obviously, if they actually want more structured learning then it’s fine, it just needs to be their choice.
So when it comes to children’s hobbies our job as parents is to simply help our children find hobbies by encouraging new experiences. Then it’s over to them. When it comes to hobbies less is more, and remember if it is fun doing it they will probably do it well!