When your kid gets REALLY into a subject, it can be pretty endearing at first.
Whether it’s construction equipment, horses, the periodic table of elements, or dinosaurs, watching your little one engross themselves in something that truly interests them is heartwarming.
But let’s be honest, it can also get a little annoying when you’ve heard about the different types of trains and how they work for the millionth time.
If your kid’s obsession is driving you bonkers, you can rest assured knowing that their intense interest is helping them in the long run.
They are getting a chance to take the lead in their own learning
Sure, they might not pursue a career in paleontology (or maybe the will) but they are getting a lot more out of it than random facts alone.
For one, they are getting a chance to take the lead in their own learning. Letting your child become totally immersed in a subject that they can’t get enough gives them an (unconscious) sense of control.
Similar to unstructured play, giving them the lead in their own education allows them to seek their own direction and start making decisions for themselves.
Once your child gets really into their subject of choice, they will likely start to incorporate that information into their play and everyday interactions.
Letting your child explore their intense interest can build their self-confidence
The games they create might include storylines featuring various dinosaurs. Perhaps they will insist on wearing certain clothing with images of specific kinds of cars. Or they may even demand that their room have illustrations of horses.
It’s possible the might even strike up a conversation with a stranger specifically to talk about spaceships. While it may seem excessive, your child is actually expanding their creativity by including their favorite subject wherever they can.
In addition, letting your child explore their intense interest can build their self-confidence. They may be able to answer all sorts of advanced level questions and might enjoy teaching others.
Take them to a museum or event based around their interest. Let them ask questions and talk to experts. Their extensive base level of knowledge can help facilitate their problem-solving skills.
A child’s obsession with a particular subject usually occurs around the preschool years but can take hold any time between 2 and 6 years old.
School work dilutes the obsession
It’s also possible that your child may have more than one intense interest during this time. If your kid starts to become uninterested in something they once loved, that’s normal, but it’s good to try and understand why they may have had an abrupt change of heart.
Ask them gentle questions about why they don’t hold that interest anymore.
It could be as simple as they felt they learned as much as they wanted to and now they are moving on. Alternatively, you want to make sure social situations are not dissuading them from pursuing their interest.
The reason these obsessions drop off around age six is due to the structure and curriculum requirements involved with most elementary schools.
Children have to broaden the subjects that they learn and aren’t able to stay hyper-focused on the one or two things they love.
While this is obviously necessary for your child’s overall education, you want to make sure they still get to explore the things that captivate their attention.
We all want our kids to love learning
Try to find ways to let your child continue to explore their passion outside of the classroom. Extracurricular activities and clubs are a great way to let them socialize with others while exploring mutual interests.
Look for means to incorporate other subjects as well. If playing in the sandbox with construction vehicles is what they love, consider “drawing” the letters of the alphabet in the sand. Or pick up books about construction equipment from the library.
Once your kid is fascinated by a particular subject, expose them to other closely related subjects that they might also take an interest in.
If they’re obsessed with dinosaurs, for example, considering introducing them to the reptile exhibit at the zoo (and then maybe on to the bugs!) You want to show your child that learning all kinds of topics can be fun.
We all want our kids to love learning. The best way to set that foundation is by leaning into their obsessions and letting them fully explore their passions.