Why Are Hobbies Important for a Child’s Mental Health and Development?

When considering hobbies and extracurricular activities for kids, we might not think about the skills kids can gain beyond the obvious. While activities or hobbies can benefit kids directly, like learning a skill that can help them in a career or getting exercise, kids can gain much from indirect skills. Things like learning to follow instructions, remain focused, develop long-term goals, and other indirect skills can be just as important as apparent skills.

We might not see the value of hobbies if they do not lead directly to a lifelong skill. However, the developmental skills that a child can gain when they pursue their interests can help them in many different aspects of life.

Developing a Tolerance for Frustration

Frustration tolerance is the ability to feel comfortable with discomfort. When kids grow up, they might need exposure to frustration to learn tolerance. Frustration tolerance is crucial for learning, committing to long-term goals, and emotional regulation. When kids have a low tolerance for frustration, they might struggle to cope with any stressors. They might have a tantrum whenever something changes or does not go as planned.

Hobbies and extracurricular activities can help kids develop a tolerance for frustration. When we learn new skills, we need to manage a certain frustration threshold as we will fail as we learn. When we find a hobby that our kid is interested in pursuing, they might be more motivated to push past this frustration and learn to regulate these uncomfortable emotions. By having something reinforcing or fun to focus on, like a puzzle, musical instrument, karate class, sports, or other activities, kids can develop frustration tolerance to help them cope with other stressors in life.

Socialization Skills and Making Friends

When making friends, we often find people fitting into our “tribe” when we share similar interests. When kids share an interest or skill with other kids, they can meet others in their “tribe.” While learning a hobby, kids will need to develop trust with instructors or other coaches to lead them along the way.

Though many kids socialize and make friends during school, they might find richer friendships based on their interests. When we meet others through mutual interests, we can find a connection in our values or the things that define us as individuals. Though we can make lifelong, healthy friendships at school, kids are often forced to interact with each other and attempt to navigate the social landscape. Extracurricular activities put like-minded individuals within proximity to one another.

Learning to Support One Another and Ask for Help

As kids pursue their interests in groups, they learn to support another. While this can be readily apparent in team sports, other activities can also foster support and camaraderie. For example, kids might encourage one another toward a common goal when they start a band or if they are volunteering during scouts. As they learn new skills, they can also become comfortable asking for help from one another or instructors. Being comfortable asking for help or relying upon support during complex tasks can help kids when they are struggling with other issues in life.

Self-Esteem and Confidence

As kids pursue interests and learn skills, they can develop confidence in knowing that they are good at something or that they have knowledge others do not have. Hobbies can help us feel unique as we hone in on our skills. By mastering different activities, participating in competitions, creating new things, or breaking personal records, kids gain the confidence that they need to build resiliency in life.

Knowing that we are competent at something, whether sports, art, music, or other crafts, helps us feel good about ourselves. We know that we can contribute something to enrich the lives of others or that we are doing something that enriches our lives.

Building Relationships With Parents and Families

Kids can also develop healthy relationships with their parents and families through the pursuit of interests. Families can come together to support one another during sporting events, get together for hikes, play board games together, or listen to music with one another. Parents can schedule nights for the family to share common interests as a fun way to bond and foster communication. Kids can learn healthy lifelong habits when we pass on skills like cooking or daily exercise to kids by participating in these activities as a family unit.

Parents are often looking for ways to connect with their kids. Sometimes, we do not need to share our kids’ exact interests to foster a connection. We can learn from our kids or use their interests to build rapport with our kids. When we struggle to bond or communicate with our kids, we might open the door to more meaningful conversations by asking them about their interests. We can ask kids questions about what they enjoy and why they have preferences for a particular activity.

Hobbies and other activities provide valuable skills for kids beyond the apparent skills learned. When developing new skills and pursuing hobbies, kids will need to learn to deal with failure and frustration. By having a high tolerance for frustration, kids can build resiliency to face stressful events throughout life. Kids can also develop social skills, including seeking support and asking for help while participating in sports, music, or other extracurricular activities. For parents looking for new ways to connect with their kids, pursuing similar interests can help. Parents can also talk with their kids about what they enjoy about their own interests. For kids struggling with emotional or behavioral issues, they might need additional support. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center is here to help kids who struggle. We encourage kids to participate in activities like volunteering, hiking, sports, and others to help them develop the resiliency needed to cope with life. Call us today at (303) 443-3343.

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