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Finding Interests that Interest your Kids - Issue 328
January 03, 2014
Hi there! ....

This week has brought in the New Year. We celebrated with a group of friends with an “Eastern State’s New Year’s Eve” Party – which basically meant we celebrated in a different time zone so we didn’t have to stay up late! We had a games night, with nibbles and finger food for dinner. Over dessert we all shared something we were thankful for and something we were looking forward to or needed prayer for in the coming year. We then spent time in prayer. It was such a delight to hear the young people encouraging each other and then praying honestly. It was actually a bitter-sweet night as we were encouraged in our friendships but at the same time saying goodbye to one family. Of course no New Year ’s Eve party is complete without fireworks but since they are illegal we settled for Sparklers instead!

The week since has been a quiet one of rest for our own family – we have been fairly busy between Christmas and New Year so it was nice just to have some chill time together. We’ve watched some videos, played a game or two, and went to a waterhole for a quick swim. Next week we pick up the pace a bit with working around the house on some projects and making sure we work on our creative projects as well.

Live life with your kids!

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Finding Interests that Interest your Kids

One of the goals I have for my kids is that they pursue passions and interests that they have and that they develop skills that are supportive of those interests. We create plenty of ‘free’ time away from their studies to allow this to happen (read more on Productive Free time) but what happens when they have no interests? When they shrug off any suggestion you make?

When this has happened in our family I have noticed a few things happening :

  1. They have an interest in something that we don’t value – so we either disregard it, or try and get them to get over it and do something ‘real’.
  2. They struggle to do things so they revert to what is safe and where they can be successful – this creates a resistance to try new things even if they aren’t growing in what is safe.
  3. They have no idea what possibilities look like – this then looks like complete boredom but doesn’t mean they want to be bored.

If we are going to inspire our children to be inspired, we need to know which issue we are working with. One thing parents often say is, “my child is not interested in anything’, and yet their child is a whizz with technology, a train buff, a skilful sportsman or creative artist – these things may not fall into your expectations, but they do need to be recognised as interests and/or abilities. I think our kids obsession with technology is often (not always) an excuse not to try new things – I also think parents obsession with blocking their interest in technology is often (not always) not recognising the value in this aspect of life.

It is helpful for us to know why it is so important for our kids to find these interests, especially if our kids have reached teen-years. When our kids are young, we just set the activities for them but as they get older we need to be facilitating their growth, and if they aren’t taking any interest in their growth it is very frustrating. At this point it is good to be able to talk to our teens and tell them why this is so important to us, help them see that we have their best at heart. And encourage them to have some vision for their own life. We then need to be committed to helping them develop the things; whatever it is they talk to us about.

Why do you want your kids to have a hobby or interest?

  • I believe that God has created them with certain abilities and gifts – they need to develop those and use them as God intended
  • It creates opportunity to learn new skills – skills that you will enjoy today, and skills that will be useful in other times of your life
  • It gives you an opportunity to connect with others

Here are some practical things that you can do to help your child find some interests:

  • Consider your routine – how much time is free time where they do nothing and you don’t give any direction. Split some of this time to be Productive time. I have 1-1.5 hours of Productive time on the days that our kids are at home in the afternoon. For Daniel that means 2-3 half-hour blocks where he does a different activity each half-hour. My girls though didn’t need that specific direction and they could do one activity for the full time.

  • List your options – Have your child create a list of things that they enjoy doing, or that they would like to learn about or learn to do. I have my kids refer to this list at the beginning of Productive time, so they set their choices for the time, and are not working on a whim. If your child can’t create such a list you may be able to create one from your observations, or you may need to work with one of these other ideas.

  • Be available - Though my ideal, or my end goal, would be to have the kids working on these skills and interests independently that is an unrealistic expectation if it is a new skill. I need to be available. Of course, as they develop some expertise, they may well know more than me and will be set to continue on their own.

  • Expose them to ideas - if your child doesn’t have a clue then it is your job to introduce them to a wide variety of opportunities. This also needs your availability – maybe even your willingness to learn new things yourself (what a role model that becomes). One way to introduce them to new skills and interests is to have them work alongside of you as you work on things in your life – for example, take your child with you when you garden, quilt, make cards, cook dinner etc. Take a class yourself, and bring your teen with you – learn how to improve your photography, create a video postcard, or start a business.

  • Look beyond – You don’t have to be the every answer for your kids - Look for other people who can contribute to your child’s life – another man or woman, a club, a community course or project. Maybe even one of your older children can help inspire your younger by committing to doing something together regularly.

One more aspect we need to talk to our kids about and that is the issue of character. They will face many situations in life where they will have a choice: will I or won’t I? Right now their choice is: will I learn something new? Or won’t I? Will I use my time wisely? Or won’t I? Will I give up? Or won’t I? Filling our afternoons with the pursuit of interests, learning new skills and being creative or productive will give us plenty of opportunity to work on these heart issues.

When our kids are young we have the opportunity to develop these skills often without conflict because the things we want them to do are more like play: Lego, dolls, sandpit, painting, recycling art, reading, riding bikes, playing board games, taking photos, jumping on the trampoline, playing trains, imagination games, dress-ups etc… So it is a good time to develop the habits of productive free time. It is when our kids move from playing to hobbies that we often see things starting to crumble.

It is easy to give up at this point, especially when our teen just shrugs, but this is the time in our teen’s life where they have the opportunity to learn so much – let us not miss this opportunity because of the road blocks. We are still the parent, and though I’m not suggesting for a minute that we force them into things, we do have the responsibility to continue teaching and training them – maybe the first lesson we need to consider, is not so much what to do, but their willingness to step out of their comfort-zone and learn – this is a heart issue.

During the week I blog at Live Life with Your Kids! This week I posted:

Or maybe you'd like to read something from my website:

  • Talents As we make time for the children to develop their Talents we find that we are covering many of our homeschool goals.

Check out other homeschool and parenting issues over at my website, Lifestyle Homeschool

My Bookshop

Blending Life with Lessons e-book - Does your everyday life challenge your homeschool ideas? This is my journey as I discover that it is possible to disciple my children in today's busy lifestyle.

Heart Focus Parenting book/e-book - A heart focused parent will keep their attention on their child's heart for God, instead of on external behaviours.

Restoring the Heart, Mind and Soul of Christmas Do your Christmas celebrations line up with what you believe? Do your celebrations help your children learn more about Jesus?

This e-book is based on a workshop I held for a couple of years to help families see that Christmas can be a significant tradition in our family life. If we are intentional about how our family celebrates we have the opportunity to use this time to teach our children about Jesus, and his love for each one of us.

My Sitemap is a quick reference to all you will find on Lifestyle-Homeschool. I encourage you to have a browse around!

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Until next week

Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!

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Live life with your Kids newsletter is about being a deliberate parent, about enjoying family life and using the opportunities that happen to teach and train your children in righteousness (right living with God). I hope that you will find regular encouragement as you live life with your kids!

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