We all know the physical and emotional benefits of getting your children involved in hobbies, classes, and events. But there’s an additional benefit to children’s hobbies that many parents don’t even consider – bonding.
A new study by dancewear retailers Bloch has looked into childhood hobbies and the time put into them by the parents. From getting them ready for sports classes to packing up their ballet shoes and driving them to dance recitals, the time spent can quickly add up. In fact, the study found that across the average childhood (that’s from age 4-16), parents spend a total of 62 days (1,498 hours) ferrying the kids to and from classes!
How children’s hobbies help bonding
However, the time spent taking the kids to and from their hobbies is definitely not time wasted. The study found that parents love this time, with a huge 8 in 10 saying they look forward to the time spent with their children when travelling to and from classes. It also looked into the effects of this family time and what it can mean for the parent and child bonding, highlighting a wealth of benefits that spending time together on hobbies can bring.
Here are three of the most significant benefits of getting involved with your children’s hobbies.
1. You get to spend quality time together
In this modern-day age, it’s a rare occurrence for a parent and child to spend time together without the interruptions of TVs, phones or tablets. Quality time is not easy to come by, and the time spent travelling to and from your children’s hobbies provides just that.
Of the parents in the study, over half (53%) said they have the most in-depth conversations with their children when they’re in the car travelling to their hobbies or classes. A further 67% said they find it easier to chat with their children during this time, with 64% saying they have their child’s full attention when travelling. It makes sense – when you’re on your way to a class, there are none of the usual interruptions of everyday life, so you’re free to openly and easily communicate with your child.
Developmental Psychologist Kate Monahan supports this, explaining, “During periods of time without direct eye contact, such as in the car, children are more open and honest communicators. This means that travel times are beautiful moments of disclosure and deep conversation.”
2. Your children get to build confidence
Learning and growing in a new skill is critical for child development, especially regarding confidence and self-esteem. Classes and hobbies help your child find new like-minded friends, work on their social skills, and build health and overall well-being. As a parent, encouraging them to find a hobby they adore and fully supporting them through it is a fantastic way to show your child just how much you care about them.
Kate Monahan explains, “When parents support their children’s interests, by travelling to and from events, parents show with their actions that they care about their child and support their passions. This helps build a close, positive relationship with parents and their child.”
3. You have lots to talk about
Sharing a hobby and passion opens up lots of doors when it comes to engaging conversations with your child. If your child finds a hobby that excites them, being as involved as possible by taking them to and from classes gives you plenty of opportunity for engaging chats, which in turn helps strengthen your emotional bond.
This was reflected in the study, which found hobbies increase conversations between parents and children. 65% of parents surveyed said they feel like their child comes away from classes with loads to tell them, with a further 7 in 10 saying they find their child is more open and honest when talking on the way to and from classes.
When children get excited about something, be it a goal they scored at football practice or a new move they learned in tap class, they’ll leave their class bursting to tell you about it. Plus, as your kid will leave class in a great mood and full of positive emotions, they’ll bring these emotions to the journey home and associate them with time spent with you. Using the journey time to allow your child to express themselves and their excitement builds trust and communication, helping to increase your parent/child bond.
How to help your child find a hobby
So, it’s clear there are countless benefits to getting your kids signed up for an afterschool or weekend class. But which class do you choose?
While it can be tempting to encourage children into sports or activities that you enjoy yourself, it’s important that they forge their own way and find a hobby they’re truly passionate about. This might mean allowing them to try a few different things before they settle into what’s right for them.
Therapist Gino Parisi tells us, “It is important to give children free will in what they want to do. This includes hobbies – parents should ask their children what they may be interested in exploring and not presume what they will like. So, ask children, allow them to explore and find out for themselves – this may change weekly until they find out what they like doing.”
For example, if your child is extremely active but isn’t enjoying traditional competitive sports, a physical hobby such as dance, gymnastics, or kung fu could be ideal. Similarly, with music, they may know they want to be involved in a music class but it could take them a while to decide which instrument or musical style is right for them.
We’d recommend looking at an overall area they enjoy, such as art, drama, dance, or sport, giving them all the options, then being patient and allowing the child to decide exactly which hobby they want to pursue. Pushing them into something they don’t have fun doing will have the opposite effect on bonding, so always make sure your child doesn’t feel pressured.
It’s all about the child’s enjoyment, Gino goes on to explain; “To do an activity with a parent that a child enjoys is a great way to bond – it says to the child, ‘I am interested in you, I want to be with you, it’s fun being with you!’. It validates children and will build their self-esteem.”