With the huge boom in technology and the burgeoning popularity of tablets and other gizmos kids love, the humble hobby is in peril, but research indicates that it merits greater importance. A fascinating study showed that people who engage in hobbies are 34% less stressed and 18% less depressed than those who don’t. Hobbies boost the mood, promote relaxation, and help us achieve a more positive state of mind. If your child has been a little stressed of late, why not encourage them to find something they are passionate about, and support them wholeheartedly? You never know what activity your child might be interested in. A good idea is to make a list of activities together and let them narrow it down to a couple of entries – if you are so inclined, you can join them and make it a family activity.
Children leading the way
When it comes to choosing a hobby, it is important to let a child choose something they truly love. An interesting study by researchers at the University of Montreal found that ‘helicopter’ parenting can lead children to become obsessed with activities because they believe that social approval can only be achieved through excellence. Researchers warned: “An activity then becomes highly important for self-protective reasons that don’t necessarily correspond with a child’s true desires.” For younger children who love all activities, a sporting or creative hobby can wield magnificent benefits.
Sport vs stress
Sport is a great way to battle stress, enhance your child’s sleep, and benefit from the calming effects of nature. Studies have shown that simply being in a beautiful natural setting (think the sea, mountainside, or forest) significantly lowers levels of stress hormone, cortisol. If you live seaside, just a few fun activities include kayaking, stand up paddle, or snorkeling. Children who develop a keen interest in sea life can learn the basics of scuba, from the age of 10 – they will need to do so under the guiding hand of a PADI-qualified instructor, of course. Kids who are more into team sports will find a host of activities at their local sports centers. Anything that gets their little hearts racing will bring them important benefits. However, kids who are stressed or who have anxiety will particularly love mindful activities such as yoga or meditation for kids. You can work on this at home by downloading an app such as Calm and trying out a few simple breathing or meditation exercises.
Fine and creative arts bring kids a host of benefits, including stress relief and the ability to enter ‘the Zone’, as they become fully engrossed in the art they are making or the music they are playing. Art and music hone cognitive abilities but they also introduce children to history and culture. Fine art can improve your child’s fine motor skills and boost their creative problem-solving abilities, while music promotes language development, sharpens spatial-temporal skills and boosts academic performance.
We have mentioned just a few ideas for kids who haven’t decided on a hobby yet but because hobbies are an expression of one’s individual passion, children should decide for themselves. If your kid is nuts about tech, balance this hobby out with time spent outdoors. Ensure they also partake in one creative activity so they experience the best of all worlds.