Hobbies are not just for pleasure or leisure. They offer a host of benefits for your child.
By Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj
“Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life,” said the American essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson.
What else but hobbies to fill those spare moments of our children? And, if you ever wondered whether children would benefit by engaging in hobbies, here’s the answer – yes, they certainly will.
1. Help bust stress: Engaging in hobbies provides relaxation both for the mind and body freeing one from the rigours of daily life. Today, children are under constant pressure – pressure to perform, pressure to excel, pressure to attain goals, pressure to realise expectations, and so on. In such a scenario, hobbies offer the perfect ‘getaway’ from the hustle and bustle of daily life for them.
2. Nurture creativity: Most hobbies tap into one’s creative potential. Even as simple a hobby as stamp collection requires creativity in displaying the collection. And, when it comes to drawing, painting, music, and arts and crafts, they serve to be perfect outlets for the child’s creative surges.
3. Improve mental health: Hobbies enable children to focus and concentrate better. They develop their reasoning, analytical and problem-solving skills. On the whole, they aid cognitive development.
4. Ensure physical well-being: Hobbies which require children to spend their time outdoors make them physically strong and well-built. In an age when they are closeted most of the time in their homes in front of screens, pastimes such as bird-watching, gardening, outdoor sports, trekking and so on, ensure children are exposed to enough sunlight and fresh air.
5. Build social skills: Activities wherein children need to interact with others build their social skills. Leisure pursuits such as travelling and camping provide a lot of scope to hone interpersonal skills. Also, being a part of hobby groups and interacting with people who have similar hobbies improves people skills.
6. Contribute to emotional health: Leisure interests boost children’s self-esteem and confidence. When their creativity is unleashed, it proves to be a feel-good factor for children. The immense satisfaction they get from pursuing their passion and the appreciation they receive when they showcase their talents are immeasurable. All these contribute to their emotional health and keep them happy.
7. Help face challenges: In the course of their creative pursuits, children might face some challenges. However, since they are passionate about these activities, they learn to overcome these challenges. This gets reflected in their real-life situations as well.
8. Teach time management: By dividing their time between regular activities and hobbies, children get to manage their time effectively. They learn to devote time judiciously for various activities without sacrificing one for the other.
9. Expand knowledge: While engaging in hobbies, children need to gather a lot of information about them. For example, for gardening, they will need to know about the types of soil, types of plant, types of manure, seasons during which specific plants flower, etc. Such information gained expands children’s knowledge.
10. Drive away boredom: Children tend to get bored easily. Boredom can lead to idleness and make children lethargic and dull. Also, they have high levels of energy which needs to be channelised on the right path. Hobbies prove to be the perfect avenue for this.
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Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj