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Passion is important; it gets you out of bed in the morning, it drives you and it gives you a reason to be excited. When it comes to keeping your kids happy and healthy, allowing your child to grow their passion is one of the greatest gifts that you can give them. Not only can being passionate lead to having a more enthusiastic outlook towards life, it also can help to cultivate a stronger self-esteem, which can help youth make healthier decisions. Your child’s hobbies and interests can also set the course for what your child becomes later in life as they can turn into lifelong passions or careers.

One mistake that parents often make is attempting to guide their children towards a specific area of interest in an attempt to make them stand out or excel. Psychologist Peter Gray, author of the book, Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life, stresses the importance of allowing children plenty of time to explore without pressure or limits, “That time is needed to make friends, play with ideas and materials, experience and overcome boredom, learn from one’s own mistakes, and develop passions,” says Gray.

As a parent, you should encourage your child to find their passion and let it flourish, because what is more important in everyday life than having a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

Tips for helping your child find and develop interests and hobbies:

  • Be available to your child to provide guidance, support and encouragement.
  • Set a good example by pursuing your own hobbies.
  • Realize that hobbies can sometimes be quite messy- so find an area designated specifically for your child’s hobby so they can work on it.
  • Test the waters with short term, low commitment options. For example, rent a musical instrument, buy sports equipment at a discount store or used sporting goods store, or borrow or buy from other parents.
  • Find opportunities to expose your children to different experiences and activities to see what resonates with them.
  • Follow their muse not your own.
  • Get involved and stay involved.

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