Encouraging Interests

Trucks, Trucks, Trucks

My son, like most young kids, is focused on a very specific interest. For some kids it’s dinosaurs, dolls, or sports, but for my oldest, it is construction. Trucks – everything trucks. It is an obsession. He is a well-rounded kid, but almost everything we do connects back to trucks. When we play play-doh, he “makes gravel” and has construction play-doh toys. The sandbox is filled with construction as is our toy room. When it’s time to color, he colors construction pictures. When we play legos, he builds trucks and knocks down buildings. He has only seen one complete movie: “Cars.” There hasn’t been a single other movie he is interested in – he finds them scary or boring. If he gets to watch a show, he picks “Mighty Machines.” He maintains he will be a construction driver when he grows up. When I kiss him goodbye as I leave for work, I must give him a kiss in the shape of a dump truck. One of his frequent prayers is “Thank you, God, for trucks.” 

The best day ever – playing construction by construction!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am happy to play construction all day. I love his imagination. He will curl up on my lap and say “Let’s make up construction stories.” We have told stories about a dump truck saving a shark, an excavator who wants to become a farmer, a crane who became a chef. But, there are times I feel it is important to encourage and develop other interests. As an example, when we head to the library, he always wants construction books. I can’t help but feel I need to push him out of his comfort zone a little.

A Birthday Experiment

My son recently turned four, and my husband and I decided we were not going to get him more construction toys for his birthday. We were going to push him out of his realm of comfort, just a little. We knew he had plenty of toys, and thought it would be good to encourage some other interests. Henry loves to be like mom and dad, so we got him a floor-hockey set to use with his dad, and a baseball glove and ball to play with mom. It was things to do with mom and dad, and he is a very active kid who seems to like sports.

As his birthday approached, he would ask “Did you get me construction?” or “Did you get me a bulldozer?” My apprehension was growing, but we told him to wait and see and reassured him that he would enjoy his presents. But, I did start to panic as the big day approached…he was going to hate his presents. So, I panicked and bought him a new book: “Mighty, Mighty, Construction Site.” Henry loves books and could read all day, so I thought this was a good safe-guard. 

When his birthday came, he was so eager to open his gifts. Henry opened the hockey set first, looked at it and said “I really like it,” but then tossed it aside and grabbed the next gift. He opened the baseball glove next and a look of disappointment went across his face. He looked at me and his dad and said “But why didn’t you get me construction?” The lower lip went out, and he didn’t cry, but you could see the sadness on his face. I felt bad that I bought gifts that I knew might disappoint him. He opened his final gift, the book, and a big smile went across his face. “CONSTRUCTION!” he shouted. 

A Positive Day

A successful day trying out mini-golfing!

My husband held strong that it was important we encourage other interests. We spent the rest of the day exploring his new toys. He ended up loving the floor-hockey set and played floor hockey for over an hour. He thought baseball was a blast and was so excited to catch the ball. We brought him mini-golfing, and he had two hold-in-ones. His enthusiasm was evident throughout the day. When he laid in bed that night, he looked at me and said “It’s okay you didn’t get me more construction. Today was fun, but can we play trucks tomorrow?” It was adorable and I was happy to have  spent a day encouraging other interests. Since then, we still mostly play trucks, but he has been dabbling with some new areas as well. 

What is your kiddo’s obsession? Do you try to encourage other interests, or do you just roll with their passion while they have one? Post your thoughts below! 

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