Why is your preschooler so ckle about his hob­bies? Help him nd his fo­cus.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - C NTENTS -

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 denite ca­reer choices and life­long com­mit­ments to specic 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.

Plan ahead

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.

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