Magazine article Working Mother

Nurturing Passions

Magazine article Working Mother

Nurturing Passions

Article excerpt

Whether your kid's a sprinter or sax player, whether he's into sketching or skateboarding, you're right there, cheering him on. You encourage him to practice, stock up on his art supplies, drive him to meets. Busy as you are, you know he needs you to help him stay on track. But you might want to make sure your cheerleading doesn't morph into control.

Children whose parents try to rule their hobbies and interests are more likely to develop obsessive passions rather than healthy ones, according to a Canadian study. But if you give your child some autonomy and independence, he's more likely to engage in activities he truly enjoys and stick with them longer. "This means valuing your child's self-motivation and then encouraging his choices and participation in decision-making," says Richard Koestner, PhD, a coauthor of the study and professor of psychology at McGill University.

When parental support escalates to pressure, a child may feel his accomplishments are tied to his parents' love, Dr. Koestner explains. So he performs for your approval rather than for the meaning it has for him. Still, you need to provide structure and support. "Parents can help encourage kids to set goals and manage activities," says Dr. Koestner. "But offer structure that supports your child's autonomy." -Tiffany Forte

SAVVY SUPPORT

To encourage healthy participation in activities, Dr. Richard Koestner suggests:

* Be a partner. Make sure you're collaborating with your child and supporting his interests and choices.

* Encourage, then listen. Explain why practice is important to reach goals, but also be understanding about frustrations. …

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