How important are hobbies anyway? For children and teenagers, the answer is probably greater than you think. Hobbies, such as participating in craft projects, do more than just fill a child’s empty afternoon. Crafts may seem rather unassuming, but actually they have a great deal to offer in your child’s development. Structured play can be as important as free play to your child’s development. In fact, play of all kinds is vital to healthy brain development. In the same way that we know simple nutrient-rich foods provide immediate and long term benefits to a child’s body, developmental psychologists tell us that simple crafts and handmade projects provide both short and long term benefits to a child’s emotional, social, spiritual, and cognitive development.

Crafts provide teens and children with a wonderfully direct way for them to receive parental approval and support. As a mom or a dad, being present in the moment with your child/teen, provides you with a wonderfully direct way of sharing in their world. If a parent participates in a craft project, and offers praise throughout the project, rather than only at the end, the long term effect on self esteem is much enhanced. The key here, however, is for the parent to take a lesser role in the constructional process of the craft and allow the child/teen to lead the activity. The task for us as parents during this process is to notice and praise the elements of the craft that reflect your child/teen. For example, if they are demonstrating good frustration tolerance, or even if they are finding a unique way of using colors or patterns, point this out to your children and reinforce to them how this shows you something that you like and approve within them.

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