5-6 YEARS OLD
Why is your preschooler so ckle about his hobbies? Help him nd his focus.
Why is your preschooler so fickle about his hobbies? It’s expensive and exhausting trying to support him. Take a step back and help him find his focus, says DR RICHARD C. WOOLFSON.
Look for reasons that suggest this might be more than a passing phase. This also encourages your child to give more thought to his choices.
Your preschooler’s interests seem to change from week to week. One day he wants to take up tennis; the next day, he tells you that he prefers drama.
He’s always switching hobbies and doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up. No wonder you are frustrated about his constant chopping and changing.
It’s hardly surprising, however, that he wants to try out different hobbies, new challenges, and fresh activities.
After all, the world is an exciting place, as far as Junior is concerned, with so much to learn and so many opportunities. He wants to try everything – at least once, anyway.
And that can cause problems for you, in terms of planning (frequently changing and rearranging his after-school schedule can be complicated), cost (you don’t want to buy expensive equipment for his latest interest only to nd it lies unused in the cupboard after a week) and aspiration (just when you thought he settled on something that would maintain his enthusiasm, his passion evaporates.)
Although your kid is too young to make denite career choices and lifelong commitments to specic hobbies, here some strategies for you to help him become more focused:
Understand your child
Talk to him about his interests before you sign him up for any classes. Think about his personality, his strengths and weakness, and his current interests.
He’s more likely to turn a hobby into a passion if it is suited to his talents and abilities. For instance, he may want to join the football team, but if he is not very agile, he is unlikely to persist.
Of course, he can improve his ability through an activity – for instance, a shy kid may become more outgoing by attending a drama class – but it is less likely to become a long-term passion. Try to match his passions to his skills.
Have an open mind
Sometimes, children have aspirations that seem ridiculous to their parents at the time, and yet they later turn out to be lifelong passions and careers.
There are astronauts who remember running around their garden as kids, pretending to y; and there are chefs who recall wanting to cook for their own childhood birthday parties.
In other words, anything is possible. What may seem like an unrealistic childhood interest to you could actually turn out to be his future career. Listen to his ideas, and give them full consideration.
When your six-year-old tells you about his latest idea for a hobby – for example, a musical instrument, skateboarding, chess or hockey – talk to him about it.
Ask him to explain why he asks for this and what he hopes to get out of it. Look for reasons that suggest this might be more than a passing phase; for instance, you are more likely to be convinced of his commitment if he tells you he wants to learn to play the piano because he can read music and likes the sound of the instrument, than if he tells you it’s because his friend plays the piano.
This also encourages him to give more thought to his choices.
Making a commitment
Once you have gone through the planning phase and are convinced that your kid has a genuine passion for his new hobby, and that he has the necessary ability to achieve success with it, agree on the level of commitment that he’ll make.
For instance, he may agree to attend a related class for a minimum of one term, or that he agrees to practise his new hobby or interest at least twice a week.
That will also encourage him to focus his ideas, as he will be reluctant to commit to something he is not totally enthusiastic about.