Teaching Children the Importance of Activity for its own Sake
If there is one thing that can be said of parenting in the 21st century, it’s that it is more focused and specialized than ever before. Parents are now inundated with information on different parenting styles. Instead of emphasizing one style over another, I’m going to focus on one value that all too often gets lost when parents adhere to a specific parenting approach—and that’s teaching children to love any given activity for its own sake.
You may be thinking that loving something for its own sake is something that comes naturally to children, and you would be right. But we parents, who are so obsessed over results and correct parenting, often get in the way and inadvertently teach children that no activity is worth doing unless it produces some sort of quantifiable award or serves as a means to an end.
Let’s take, for example, your child’s extra-curricular activities. Savvy parents who are keeping an eye toward their children’s future often will systematically enroll their kids in sports or activities that they can put on resumes for college entrance later. But many parents don’t realize that teaching kids to love activities for their own sake is the key to excellence in virtually anything. Kids learn the power of concentrated thought. They begin to understand the dedication it takes to be truly good at anything, and that this dedication can only be born from a true love of the activity in question.
Instead of enrolling your child in some expensive football summer camp, go out to a local park and spend a few hours kicking a ball around with your child. Always focus on the fun aspect of any activity before spending money on it. Many parents will enroll their children in activities they think they should like, only to find that their children hate doing it after a few tries. Especially when children are young and in primary school, it’s best to let them try a host of different activities in casual settings to see what really arouses their passions.
More important than promoting excellence, learning to love an activity for its own sake is a hallmark of well-being. In a world that is often driven to madness by opportunism, the world direly needs more passionate adults who truly love what they do. And this passion always begins in childhood.