Whether it’s horses, soccer, or chess, tweens often take their interests to dramatic depths — creating pony-themed bedrooms, setting team-spirit ringtones, and discussing gaming strategies for hours. It’s no surprise; part of growing up is exploring who you are and what is special to you. Some tweens, however, become so fixated on an interest that they prefer to talk about little else. While it’s important to respect your tween’s interests and knowledge, it’s also good to encourage a balance.
Being so dedicated to one interest can close your still-developing tween off from other fun activities and friends too soon. In some cases, having an “odd” hobby may also open him up to bullying. Although we should always encourage our children to follow their hearts and question doing things just because they’re “cool,” a large part of a tween’s growth comes from being part of a peer network. When and if his interest fades, you don’t want your tween to be left without a group of friends.
An intense interest in a particular topic can be associated with high intelligence, so resist the urge to tease your child about his passion. But if you’re concerned about overindulgence, introduce other activities; initially, select ones connected to her interest. For example, a horse fanatic could take up drawing so that she can illustrate her equine friends. A chess player might try an engineering project or design a building using his own set of materials. Try expanding your tween’s social life, too, as the more children she mixes with, the more likely she is to discover other interests.
Show respect: ask your tween about his hobby. Why does it interest him? What are his goals? Talk about your passions so you can share that feeling of excitement.