Fact: Our kids don’t need elaborate and expensive vacations or outings to feel connected to us. As a matter of fact, a 2015 study out of Toronto suggests that the amount of time you spend with your kids doesn’t have as much impact on them as you may think. (This changes during adolescence.) Before you @ us, know that we’re not suggesting you “abandon” or “ignore” your children. We are suggesting, though, that we can all work on fostering our kids’ independence — and teaching them that being entertained doesn’t always come in the form of over-the-top, matching-family-outfitted trips to Disney World. Did you know that research shows giving kids alone time is practically paramount to their development and their emotional growth? Our kids need time to think and act through the big thoughts and events in their lives. But, let’s be real, they’ll lean on us as a crutch as much as we let them. Enter, hobbies for kids.
Helping your child discover their own interests and hobbies can go a long way toward getting them to stop turning to you for every little thing. Hobbies are, in essence, something we obsess over and something we enjoy doing. Finding something your kid enjoys doing means you won’t need to nag them to “go play,” because that hobby will become something they want to do. Of course, finding a hobby will require a little upfront effort from you. One of the best ways to start your kids on the path to a hobby is to include them in your hobby. While they might start out sewing by your side, you’ll soon find them escaping to the solace of their room so they can craft you a present or look up new techniques on the internet. Including them on your hikes is a great bonding activity, yes. But you might soon find that while you love identifying ragweed and Scottish thistle, they’re more into learning bird calls or tracking animals. That’s okay! If you start with the same root hobby, it will give you something you can do together and apart. And if none of your hobbies pique their interest? That’s okay, too. Consider the shows or games they’re already obsessed with to find hints at what hobbies you could try introducing them to.
Beyond all this, remember that the name of the game is “no pressure.” There are middle-aged adults who still struggle to list their “hobbies.” That might be because they don’t know that reading is considered a hobby. Or it might be because they just haven’t found something worth obsessing over. Along the way, your kids will find things they enjoy doing on their own, even if it’s not something they stick with for a lifetime. And, really, aren’t we all only looking for an hour of peace, anyway?
Skill-Based Hobbies for Kids
Young photographer Hawkeye Huey fell in love with photography while he was following around his dad, who does photography for a living. The two best buds have traveled the country shooting amazing and colorful pictures. Now Hawkeye even has his own wildly popular Instagram account. If you enjoy taking along your camera, consider finding a point-and-shoot camera for your kiddo to start with and invest accordingly as their interest and skill blossoms.
Not everyone loves to cook. You may not even love to cook. But, that shouldn’t stop your kiddos from trying. Cooking and baking are super popular among kids these days. Case in point: MasterChef Junior. Not only did this show give us a look at the softer, sweeter side of Gordon Ramsay, but it also served up some seriously talented under-age chefs. So, grab your kid a learning tower or stepstool, a used cookbook, and their own set of colorful measuring cups and see what happens. They could soon go from baking cookies to creating dinner once or twice a week.
It starts with a bird feeder or two and progresses into a new spice rack. Soon, they’re building their own playhouse or bike ramp. Teaching your kids the importance of measuring twice and taking care of their tools will go a long way in life.
Art-Based Hobbies for Kids
4. Comic Books
A love of comic books and superheroes can spawn many different hobbies. While the obvious answer is collecting, it doesn’t have to stop there. A trip to the library and the art store will open up a whole world of possibilities for drawing and writing their own comics. There are so many kinds of art styles to learn and so many stories they can tell. This is hours and hours of fun for a kid who truly enjoys it.
A kid who knows origami will never be bored. Knowing the ancient art of paper folding tends to make kids pretty popular. Someone always wants a crane, boat, or balloon. Moreover, dentist waiting rooms and long road trips become a whole lot quieter once you give permission for your budding origami master to tear up a magazine and create.
Your kid probably loves music already. They sing with the radio, bounce to the beat, and play air guitar any time they’re afforded the chance. But, what do they enjoy about it most? Starting a musical instrument is an admittedly expensive hobby. If you’re going to invest in it, though, make sure you’re starting an instrument they actually want to play.
Dance lessons can also vary drastically depending on what your kid is into and where you live. Cincinnati is home to a semi-famous Irish dance studio. Meanwhile, Molly of Denali fans might be interested in dances native to North America. Or maybe they just really want to learn ballet. All of it is acceptable and obsess-able.
There are also kids who just really enjoy working with their hands and creating… anything. One day they might enjoy making potholders, and the next they want to make a fleece blanket. A sentimental kiddo might enjoy creating family scrapbooks. Crafting really runs the gamut and leaves things open to interpretation. And, with more crafting kits on the market than ever before, it also makes present shopping easier than ever.
Hoping they pick up a more useful hobby? Try knitting or crocheting. These once “old lady“-only crafts are now popular with all ages. There are tons of free tutorials online and plenty of easy “hacks” to learn or buy as you start out. Plus, that yarn aisle! It’s just so colorful and fun.
These days you might only sew when your partner busts a seam or loses a button. But, remember when you or your mom spent time taking on more creative endeavors? Perhaps your kiddo will enjoy sewing Barbie clothes or making a new blanket for their bed. There’s even a Facebook group for newbies where people are making shoes (yes, shoes!), coats, and other more trend-prone items.
Learning and Critical Thinking-Based Hobbies
Did you roll your eyes? We get it. If your kid learns magic, it means you’re going to sit through a lot of lackluster magic shows. But if it brings them joy, isn’t that all that matters?
12. Science Experiments
Yes. That includes slime. But what else can they experiment with? There are loads of free or cheap science experiments available on the internet. Let your kids go crazy. This could also evolve into inventing.
Did you know that you could melt down broken crayons, put them in liners, and make new, recycled crayons in fun shapes? You can also still collect cans and turn them in for money. Let your little wannabe Greta Thunberg save the world by recycling everything they possibly can.
Stamps, rocks, books, pencils — those are all things you can collect. Your kid might collect them because they’re extra sparkly or colorful, or they might set out trying to collect them from specific places. While collecting may not seem like a time-consuming activity, it most definitely can be if your little one loves learning.
Outdoor Hobbies for Kids
Gardening with kids can go in so many fun directions. Maybe your tender-hearted toots wants to create a butterfly garden to help save the butterflies. Or maybe your future Masterchef just wants a chance to compost or grow their own ingredients. Gardens can be easily planted in small yard plots, in community lots, or even containers in a windowsill or on a patio.
16. Animal Spotting
Are they a bird-watcher? Or maybe they like identifying tracks? There are a ton of oddly specific and equally entertaining animal-themed activities out there for them to explore and obsess over. We’re partial to ones where they walk away with more knowledge, though.
Okay, sure. You can find the Big Dipper. But what about Orion? And would you know the difference between a satellite and Venus? Astronomy offers a wide range of learning opportunities, including spiraling into Greek mythology and history. You don’t need to invest in a telescope to get started, either.
While lots of kids enjoy looking at the stars and dreaming of being an astronaut, fewer kids want to be a meteorologist. However, there’s more to a meteorology obsession than the chance to become a “weatherman.” Even NASA relies on meteorology.
19. Survival/Camping Skills
If your kid is obsessed with zombie games, this might be a great angle to take. There are awesome survival guides geared at just about any age level. Plus, all that Boy Scout/Girl Scout stuff can be super practical to have on-hand. Can you start a campfire without a match?
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