Child development from ages of 12-16
Adolescence is a time when your child’s thinking skills take an adult turn, his or her body matures, and friends and social networks outside the family become increasingly important. The teenage years can be tough for many families. Many Dads will find their teenage children behaving like emotional pendulums: happy and at ease one moment, and troubled by self-doubts the next. However, these mood swings will smooth out as teens slowly gain confidence in themselves. Dads may feel hurt and frustrated to find their teens pulling away from them to engage in their own activities. However, you must strike a balance between establishing quality family time and respecting their space to venture out on their own. Doing so will encourage teens to respect you in return and be more open and receptive to spending time with you.
The importance of hobbies for teens
Hobbies are an important way to build your teen’s confidence. By finding an area of interest, a teen can develop competence and skill. This leads to positive results and enhances your teen’s confidence in their ability, which will subsequently result in more competence and skill.
Hobbies also help teens cultivate a strong sense of self-identity. A teen’s likes and dislikes help define who they are as people. When teenagers engage in a hobby that makes them feel happy, productive and stimulated, their hobby gradually becomes an integral part of who they are.
Hobbies alleviate your teen’s boredom and this can have some devastating effects: bored teens are more likely to seek out risky activities and get involved with negative peers. Helping teens develop a hobby reduces their susceptibility to peer pressure and keeps them out of trouble.
Hobbies offer dads an opportunity to affirm and engage with their teen. When your teen is involved in a hobby, you have easy access to something to praise them about. You can use your teenager’s hobby to maintain communication with him when things get distant or strained, or simply to increase positive interaction you have with them.
Fostering age-appropriate hobbies for your teen
It is important that you give your teen the agency to decide which hobbies really interest them. You may offer suggestions and invite them to try something new with you, but always ensure that you check in with them to find out what they think of the activity. Remember not to be too pushy as that may create resentment and possibly a lifelong aversion to the activity. Both dads and teens should feel free to change situations that turn out to be less than expected.
Here are some ideas for dads:
Unlike young children, teenagers are old enough to trust with tasks such as cutting, chopping, and actually cooking food. Furthermore, sharing cooking as a hobby is a great opportunity for dads to teach their teens some of the skills that they are going to need later on in life, especially if they are considering studying abroad in university. Cooking together also allows dads to impart the importance of good nutrition and high-quality ingredients. As your teenager masters cooking, they are learning a powerful tool to take control of their own health as they learn how to feed their body with what it needs nutritionally, both now and in the future.
Some dads may view video games with hostility if they have a teenager who is constantly glued to his or her game console. Teenagers who play video games too often can indeed become isolated from the rest of the family, leading to reduced family time and communication. However, if dads set some simple rules, they can draw upon video games as an avenue for family bonding. If you notice your teen is cooped up in their room playing video games, leave the video game consoles in public areas of the house, such as the living room or family room. Set aside a video game family night and let your teen select the theme of the night. While many younger kids would be unable to handle the complexity of many strategy games, these are great for teenagers and parents to enjoy together. Furthermore, your teen will appreciate your willingness to pick up a hobby that may be outside of your comfort zone.
Unlike younger kids, teenagers have a better ability to focus and are less likely to get tired, cranky, or whiny on a longer hike, making a long, leisurely hike more fun for teens and parents alike. Hiking allows teenagers to get some physical activity while enjoying the great outdoors, offering a good balance to the amount of time teens spend immersed in technology – surfing the internet, watching television or playing video games. Hiking also helps teenagers to cultivate the important trait of patience when it comes to activities such as sitting still and waiting while bird-watching or taking wildlife photography.
Teenagers are creating who they want to be in the world. The arts give them a voice and an outlet where they can express their individuality – who they are and who they want to be. Creative and artistic thinking allows adolescents to take control of something at a life-stage where they are still constantly being told what to do and how to do it, both at home and school. Teenagers often yearn to have some freedom of expression and make some decisions on their own. Dads can support their teenager in their artistic pursuits by signing them up for art classes, buying them art supplies as a gift, taking them to a museum or art gallery, practising art with them, or sitting down with them to look through their sketchbooks and designs.
Dads may believe that their teens neither want nor require their support and encouragement as they pursue new hobbies. However, dads’ engagement in their teen’s hobbies is still necessary. The most important thing for dads to remember is that it is not nearly as important exactly what activity they do with their teenagers, as it is that they spend quality time with them and take an interest in their hobbies. Many teens go through phases of being moody, craving independence, and pushing their dads away. By cultivating fun hobbies that dads and their teens can enjoy together, dads can stay connected with their teens and ease them through the tumultuous period of adolescence.
- Family hobbies for parents and teens. Family Values Club.
- Firchow, N. (2008). Child development: 13- to 16-year-olds. Great Schools.
- Langlois, C. Parenting teenagers: How to help them find balance outside of school. Canadian Living.
- Meller, A. (2009). Why the arts are important for teens. Suite 101.
- Scott, S. The effects of video games on the family. Sam’s Club.
About the Author: The Dads for Life Resource Team comprises local content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals, dedicated to developing useful resources for dads.