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kim asked 12 years ago

My son is 11 I am frustrated that he is not interested in any sports or lessons. His favorite thing to do is play video games, computer games and play with lego and army men. He plays outside with some friends but his famorite is a boy two years younger and kinda passive. They play army men in sand or on grass and run around with play guns. He is not aggressive or violent. He is extremely knowledgeable and can carryon a conversation with an adult re world war 2, politics etc. He gets homesick very easily and we put him in summer camp this year and is still having anxiety about feeling abandoned. He still has to sleep with the hall iight on and now I seem to be nagging continuously about doing things outside the house. I ask go to a movie, rock climbing, walk at park, bike ride etc. he always says no just wants to relax at home. He was in soccer, but started really not liking it so my husband took him out. This year i said you have to be in something for exercise and he was in hip hop when 7 years and he said okay. He has gone twice and seems good at it and now doesn’t want to go, he says doesn’t want to go on stage end of year and he only said he wanted to cause he didn’t want to heart my feelings. The only thing he wants to go in is cadets when he is 12, but I am sure he won’t find it all fun. How do I make him interested in activities etc. or do I just understand that these things are not his interests and he will find his interests on his own.

1 Answers
Insight Psychological Staff answered 2 years ago

Thank you for your question. As a parent myself I can empathize how frustrating it can be when it appears your child has a lack of interest in activities and does not seem to be living up to their potential. As parents, we have such good dreams for our children and only want what we think is best for them and to see them thrive and be happy. However, we have to recognize that not all children are going to thrive in the same things and that their interests or passions may vary, sometimes quite drastically to our own.

An approach that may be helpful for you and your son is to have a real heart to heart conversation and try to understand what his feelings are about these things and what may be truly holding him back. I would suggest that you and your husband first make sure that you do not hold any expectations of the outcome of this conversation, as it needs to be clear to your son that you are seeking his interests, ideas, and perceptions of the situations, so that he is not just trying to say what you want to hear.

It sounds like your son may be a little shy or reserved, and perhaps does not like to be the center of attention (for example, performing on stage in front of an audience).  This is normal with adolescents and should be discussed rather than pushed because that could create more issues with confidence and self awareness later in life.

I can understand the need for wanting your child to expand interests beyond video games, and for him to get exercise. You could institute a set schedule for electronics and encourage exercise by creating a routine that the whole family or a few of you to participate in together.  Maybe swimming a couple times a week, skiing in the winter, or simply evening walks. Something the family can do together that encourages exercise and also bonding, while also setting an example that the expectation is not just for him but for everyone in the family as well.

As for the activities that he wants to try, I would say to allow him to try the things he does show interest in, and this will allow him to see that you support his decisions and also gives him a chance to expand and try out things, while finding what works for him. If you are concerned about him continuing to try things and then quitting you could set limits, such as, if he decides to join cadets he must stick it out for the full term of payment (for example, the full year or session), and actually give it a real shot. Then you and your husband should stick to this policy. It will give him a chance to truly experience the activity as well as teach him about commitment and follow through.

In terms of friends, I wouldn’t be too concerned if your child has friends that he enjoys spending time with as long as their relationship is healthy, and your child is happy. Other connections will eventually take place as time goes on when your child is ready to engage in those.

I hope my answers were helpful and if you have any more questions, you can access Thrive- Child & Youth, our program that focuses on children and youth mental health. 

If you feel you would benefit form speaking with a therapist who can help with parenting or support for your child, we have many psychologist’s who specialize in these areas.

I wish you and your family the best of luck.