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Child Development

Why Hobbies May Help Kids Avoid Dangerous Situations

A child's future can be enhanced by the interests they have in childhood.

Key points

  • Hobbies help keep children focused on something that interests them and less likely to be distracted by dangerous activities.
  • Children developing interests that are uniquely theirs can help to create a stronger sense of their own identity.
  • Interests developed in childhood may be things they truly enjoy and sustain an interest in throughout their lives.

I grew up reading comic books. I bought them, I read them, I collected them, and I loved them. I collected most of the Marvel comic books: The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, The Hulk, Thor, the X-Men, the Avengers, etc. If Marvel published it, chances are I collected it. Buying these comics took up most of my allowance. There were weeks I even squirreled away my lunch money to buy the issues I needed.

If I was willing to forego lunch for my hobby, it’s pretty clear it mattered to me. My brother and I collected for years, putting most (if not all) of any spare money we had toward the collection. And guess what? We never even thought about spending money on drugs or alcohol. It wasn’t even a question that we might waste money on those things when we could be purchasing the latest issue of Daredevil or Spider-Man. Our drug of choice was our comic book collection, and nothing was going to get in the way of it.

Nowadays our old collection would be worth a whole lot more than it was back then. However, the important thing is to realize that we had a passion for something. Comic books really mattered to us, and all of our energy and money went into that passion. We had something to focus on that was just ours. Something that we could control and enjoy. Perhaps your child has a passion for something. Maybe they’re into sports, or dinosaurs, or role-playing cards.

Finding Things That Are Theirs

Whenever a child finds something that they love that can be theirs (providing it's not a danger to them), it’s a good thing. It can help them focus on something positive and occupy their time and energy. Parents don’t need to understand why a child likes something, just that they do. My parents didn’t understand my brother and my passion for comics. Yet, they could see that it was something very special to us. Something that we enjoyed and focused on. The point of this reminiscence is to emphasize that childhood passions may help kids avoid the trappings of drugs, alcohol, vaping, etc. It can give them an alternative to devote their energies to enjoying.

A Safeguard Against Boredom and Poor Decisions

When a child becomes interested in something that occupies their thoughts and sparks their imaginations, it can help them stay focused on those activities and away from the distractions that lead to poor decisions. Children who turn to dangerous past-times may have serious issues and trauma in their lives. However, other kids may just be bored. Maybe they don’t have anything else in their lives that matters to them. It is this lack of direction and focus that may make them more susceptible to the vices that they are offered.

Of course, none of this is a guarantee that a child won’t make poor choices in their activities or the people they interact with online or elsewhere. There are subsets in most activities that may be inappropriate or dangerous. Parents do need to have knowledge about what their kids are engaging in. With that said, once parents have ascertained that the activities are safe, their child’s interest and passion is enough for it to be a positive activity in their life. Parents don’t have to understand why their child likes something, just that it matters to them.

Establishing Their Own Identities

Children have a desire to have something that’s just theirs and not their parents'. They are in the process of developing their own identities. This identity establishment helps to explain why almost every generation of music lovers has found new genres of music that appealed to them. How many of us wanted to listen to our parents' music? Giving children the freedom to choose activities, entertainment, and music helps them stimulate their minds and have something to be excited about. It is this passion for new things that grabs them and just may be the best defense parents have to inoculate their children against making poor choices.

The bottom line is that often parents may not understand their child’s passions. It may not make sense to them why a child would want to spend hours watching a documentary on classic cars or analyzing a chess game. They may not understand a child’s dedication to shoot 50 free throws in a row before they leave the basketball court. Yet it is these passions that, when they get older, just may be some of the highlights of their childhood.

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