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Share Your Hobbies With Your Child

Break It Down

Throw too much information about the intricacies of your hobby at your child, and you'll just end up frustrating him. Think of how to reduce your activity to its simplest elements. What skills are needed before you can begin? "Anything beyond your child's ability is going to be a struggle rather than fun," says Kay Willis, author of Are We Having Fun Yet?: The 16 Secrets of Happy Parenting.

Maurice Elias, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Rutgers University and coauthor of Emotionally Intelligent Parenting, suggests: "Think about what it was like when you first developed your passion. What pointers did you need? Then write out the steps, making as few assumptions as possible. Show them to a friend who is not involved in the hobby, and see if it makes sense to her."

When Spencer McCullogh, 5, of New York City expressed an interest in sewing — the hobby that his mom, Lynn Glasgow, loves — she considered what he could do at his age.

"Spencer likes to help pick out material with me," says Glasgow. "He can also help measure and line up the material before I make a cut." Glasgow's brainstorm came when Spencer asked her to do a project with his class. She brought her sewing machine to his school and made a quilt with the children. "They couldn't sew, obviously, so I got fabric paint and markers and let each child design his or her own square," she explains. Glasgow then completed the quilt and hung it up at school. In addition, she read the students a story on quilting and showed them photos of different quilts. "Spencer was so excited that I came in. He was just beaming," she says. And pride in projects and being able to show off to friends "what Mom and I made" can spur a child's interest in a hobby.

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