Encouraging and Exposing Interests

Every parent has an idea of the wonderful things they will share with their child.  Maybe it’s camping, skiing, video games, princesses- whatever the interest, parents want their child to share the enthusiasm for it.  While it is wonderful for children to see their parents excited about what is enjoyable for them, it’s a fine line between wanting to share that enthusiasm and trying to force your child to feel it, too.

So, how does a parent stay on the “healthy” side of that line?  By having the important adults in a child’s life expose them to as many interests as possible.  And that’s the key word- expose.  Mom might work on her scrap book in front of her child, dad might take the child outside to play football, grandma can cook with her grandchild, and uncle can read favorite comic books, and so on.

Especially when children are younger (and it’s still fun to spend time with parents), take them to the mountains in the summer and winter, take them to the stock show, work on the car in the garage; do your interests in front of them- inviting them to join in if they’d like.  By doing all of these things with your child from the beginning, you are exposing them to many different interests that are important to the adults in your child’s life.

It is through this exposure that children find what fun means to them.  If you love to knit, and your child is watching you do that, ask him if he wants to knit too.  If he says he does, give him some knitting needles and yarn and show him the basic steps.  If he says he doesn’t, let him know that is alright and if he ever changes his mind to let you know.

Forcing a child to have your interests causes children to feel their interests aren’t good enough because they are not your interests.  In addition, forcing children to do what you like will eventually backfire and they will (most often) resent that activity and (possibly) you for making them do something they don’t find enjoyable.  In the end, no one will have as much fun as was anticipated and everyone will wind up disappointed.

All you have to do is expose your child to your interests and find the common interest you both share.  That is where the real fun happens.

Rebecca Wilson, MS, is mother to Emogene (IC7) and is an enthusiast for all things related to young children.  She earned her Bachelors Degree in Child Development and her Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education both from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.  She has worked with children of all ages from birth through 3rd grade in different positions from teaching to administration to consulting.  Currently, she is a grant manager for the early childhood council in Adams County.