Encouraging Interests – When to do it ?

_dsc4022Do you worry if your daughter plays with a tractor, or one of your son’s clone-troopers or cowboys ? Exactly. It doesn’t matter what your boy likes. I write this because of a Facebook post about boys playing with dolls, and if parents should be worried.
Everything he shows interest in adds to his development, is another brick in the eventual house that he will become. They see moms with children, maybe their siblings, or being pushed by the woman in the greed dress in a pram in the park; it’s a part of life they may be curious about.
It’s our function as parents to encourage and guide when it comes to our children’s interests; obviously we steer them away from the stuff that does harm to the develping mind of a young child who is not yet emotionally capable of processing complex thoughts and actions, like shooting, sex and violence. When our son was two he developed an obsession – not a passion – with aircraft. A few years later Lego star wars took hold. He still loves them both.
With the planes, I made the conscious effort to see if he still loved planes, driving a few hours out of town to an aerobatics airshow at a small, rural airfield. He couldnt get enough.
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Since he’s been small, he’s loved his planes. So you don’t have to wait until he’s seven, you can encourage from day one.

Which brings me to the age when interests start, and when they should be taken ‘seriously’.  Those professionals who study children and their physcial development tell us that it is around age seven that big mental leaps occur; whether reading, hobbies, activities or simply curiosity, like how long it it will take for jelly to set in the freezer (which is what happened occasionally when I forgot it the night before my girl came for her visit), and “imagine if that road just kept going uner the sea all the way to America, wouldn’t that be cool….can it go to America, Dad ?”.
 My son has this past year been showning an intense interest in soccer. It pretty obviously stems from him seeing me watch the odd game, maybe getting excited (we’re big Liverpool FC fans), but also his interest in kicking the ball around, with me or his half-brother mastering some basic skills and being part of a team.

 He also enjoyed rugby, but as it required the permission of the other parent on her Saturday mornings, that didn’t happen. So wIth the involvment of a facilitator he ended up being allowed to play the game he loves, for the first time. We joined a club here in the Cape Town city bowl and he’s thus far loved every minute. It’s the same with reading, whether Dahl, blyton or activity books; until his mother took the kids when he was 4 yrs old, I read to him every single night. We still do on our nights together.
No matter how tired you are, try to encourage every interest they show. The stuff they’re serious about will rise to the top, and you will have set an important foundation for their future.
As for playing with dolls, one day there’s a good chance they will be Dads too.
* even tho’ it is engineered that my children’s time with me is restricted, with their mother insisting that I have a supervisor (nanny) present when I see my daughter, she created them with me, for which I will eternally be grateful and acknowledge her.