As young adults transition from tweens to teens, many parents notice a change in their children’s priorities. For example, after years of tennis lessons, they may suddenly not want to pick up a racket.

As a teen’s sphere of influence shifts from family- to friend-centric, activities championed by parents may also fall by the wayside. If your daughter’s friends aren’t involved in athletics, they might not understand the time commitment required. They may belittle her participation in dance or music and pressure her to skip practice or scheduled lessons to spend time with them. Sometimes, this results in a change of activities — like leaving a competitive gymnastics team to join a band. A shift in focus can be frustrating to parents, who often have committed as much time to the activity as the child. More concerning, however, is when a teen abandons a positive hobby simply to free up time to hang out with less-involved friends.

Waning interest in hobbies can be a sign that your teen is troubled. However, keeping your child engaged and interested in extracurricular activities can actually prevent common missteps in the teen years. Teens who participate in athletics are less likely to use drugs or alcohol — in addition to the threat of drug screening by some school athletic programs, student athletes are often more focused on health and physical fitness.

Teens who are active in activities after school — be it scouting, art classes, language clubs or theater — are also less likely to have behavior problems, because they are busy and supervised during the vulnerable hours between the end of the school day and when mom and dad get home from work.

Fortunately, after-school activities are a great place to find the right kind of friends for your teen. Young people who share common interests with your child are more likely to encourage her talents.

Hobbies are also a positive influence on a teen’s sense of self-worth, largely because they contribute to an overall sense of mastery or competence in a set of skills. Receiving accolades for their talents and accomplishments helps reinforce a healthy self-image. In addition, the discipline and sense of teamwork taught through participation in sports and through performance arts are important skills that help prepare your teen for adulthood. By requiring your teen’s continued participation in her activities, you will also teach the importance of honoring her commitments and finishing the things she starts.

To learn more about how to keep your teen engaged and interested in a positive hobby, contact us today.