Some children can naturally identify their interests while others do not. Parents or guardians need to guide their children when finding their interests. Assisting your child to find his/her interest can also be a memorable experience. Listed in this article are some tips and steps on how to help your child discover their interest.
How to help your child find interest? From differentiating strengths and interests to recognizing what to avoid, there are many ways to help our child find their interests. Plus, there are many interests your child can pick up. You and your child can try one after another until you both find a suitable one for them. Still, the most crucial thing to remember is to be very supportive. As a parent or guardian, you should always be your child’s number one fan.
Aside from giving tips on how to help your child find interests, this article will also provide advice on how to be your child’s number one fan. It might be worthwhile to remember some of the things listed below.
Strengths vs Interests
As a parent or guardian, it is useful to not confuse the child’s strengths with their interests.
Interests don’t necessarily involve the skills they excel at. The child’s interest is something they enjoy doing. It might be something they recently picked up due to curiosity. It might be something the child and other ones are obsessing over. However, it is also normal for a child to develop intense interest over something.
Meanwhile some strengths involve character, social, and academic (including language, literacy, math and logic).
It is very important to note that both the strengths and interests of a child play a huge role in their life. These are essential parts that complete their self-identity. Even though some interests might decrease over time, it might still represent the child’s character. For them, their interests and strengths represent who they are as a person. In some cases, children might carry their strengths and interests into adulthood. It can turn into something they apply in their career or passion.
Common Interests Among Children
There are many interests among children. Since it is something that might be temporary, children may shift from one interest to another. The following are the usual interests between children:
- Music or performing arts
- Video games
- Other activities
Steps to guide your child to discover their interests
Did you notice that your child has been talking more about things such as vehicles or instruments? Are they glued on the screen when watching programs about these things? This might signal that they developed interest over something. It may be towards something simple like pencils. It can also be about specific things, such as trains.
These interests may last from days to months. Children, given their short attention span, will also switch interests over time. Still, parents and guardians should encourage these interests.
Here is some advice on how you can help your child discover his/her interest.
Talk to them
Interests can be easily detected in some children. They usually start to frequently talk about something or spend more time involving their interests. But some children might not immediately show obvious signs of interest. This is normal. All children are different – even the way they express themselves or react to things.
This is why it is important to build strong communication with your child. Having a meaningful conversation with your child can help them be clear about what they want to pursue. It will also make them feel comfortable and supported. Personal interactions will also give you an idea about which activities they enjoy.
Let the child choose and lead
The child knows their interests better than anyone else. Allow them to have a chance to do what they want. As parents or guardians, your role is to observe and guide them. Do not take over. Also, it is helpful to introduce some of your interests to your child. But, you should not push or force them to have the same interests. Allow them to explore on their own. Be there to support them and give them answers to their curious questions.
You can also give advice to boost your child’s confidence when choosing interest. Encourage them to trust their intuition. Enlighten them about their capabilities and what they can do. This may help them be more assertive as they try out different interests.
Observe and foster their natural and unique talents
The child’s natural and unique talents might play a role in the child’s interests. Although their talents might not necessarily relate to their interests, teach them how to connect the two.
The child should consider their interests as something they do for fun. Teaching them about having an optimistic outlook on their interests will be helpful. Allow them to make mistakes. Tell and show them how to properly address and improve from their mistakes. Tell them that failing is a normal part of their life.
Expose them to impactful experiences
Take them to memorable and inspiring activities to spark up their interests. Going out for a walk, visiting the museum, watching movies, and listening to music are some examples. The child can also try sports and join lessons for performing arts (dance, acting, music).
Be an example
Aside from being their number one fan, you can also be their role model. Tell them about your own interests and why you chose those. Show them you are curious to hone and look out for different interests. Share to your child the delightful effects of interests on your life. This might inspire your child and make them thrilled to have their own interests.
Try their interests. Do it with them and have fun together. By doing this, you can show that you support their choices. This will also improve the parent-child relationship. Plus, this might encourage your child to maintain his/her interests.
Do not judge or harshly criticize the child
Do not judge or leave harsh comments about the child’s interests. It might discourage them from pursuing their current and other interests. They will also feel discouraged and unsupported.
Additionally, do not compare your child to others. This will hit the child’s confidence and self-image.
Negative Impact of Interests to Be Cautious
Be alert and aware of burnout in children
Burnout, in general, is defined as physical, emotional and mental exhaustion. It is usually caused by too much stress with no time to rest and relax. Even though interests do not take as much time as studies/other activities, it can still stress them out.
Some symptoms of burnout in children:
- Sudden loss of energy
- Anxiety and/or fear
- Difficulty concentrating
Possible causes that may lead to burnout:
Too many interests
It is good to expose your child to various interests. However, it is possible it will make the child feel overwhelmed. Shifting from different interests is part of the process.
Trial-and-error can help you and the child to discover the best interest. But, be observant and ask your child if he/she is having a hard time to keep up with the activities.
Children need and deserve unstructured time to explore their interests. But as parents or guardians, we should know when to draw the line. Identify their physical and mental limits. As much as you want them to enjoy and experience things, allow them to take a break. Otherwise, your child might lose interest or feel ill.
General Advice On Healthy Parenting
First of all, be their best supporter. This means you should not put pressure on them. Allow them to enjoy, explore, and experience things. Aside from being stern and giving criticisms, praise your child. Remember, they are trying and doing their best while having fun. Honor the effort they put in the interest they pursue. It will help them feel supported, confident, and encouraged.
Also, refrain from bribing your child. It is helpful to give rewards occasionally. But opt for verbal than material rewards. Material prizes might confuse their motivation towards their interests. Your child should focus on their interest for self-discovery and enjoyment.
Lastly, focus on progress over perfection. It should be up to your child if he/she wants to improve their interests. Improving, however, does not mean to be perfect. Hence making progress more vital throughout the experience. Monitoring the progress will aid them to learn from mistakes.
My child does not seem to have any interests. What should I do? As cliché as this sounds, the best answer here is to not instantly have solutions. As a parent or guardian, you should prepare a lot of patience and understanding. Do not jump into a conclusion that your child does not have any interest. Ask your child why they seem to have no interests. Maybe there are other underlying issues to it. If none, slowly introduce them to different activities without forcing them.