Shark week comes around every August, but it wasn’t until this year that I really reflected on the meaning it has for the children of America. What I take from it is that a fascination in a single topic can transform popular culture and have a ripple effect in the lives of many kids in America.
Shark Week is so pervasive that you can see it in every corner of society. The post office is selling Shark Week stamps. Michael Phelps is racing sharks on TV. Local department stores are seeing an uptick in shark adorned apparel. Book stores prominently display shark themed books.
And the children of America get an opportunity to explore a topic that fascinates them.
So what can we learn by something like Shark Week? That a single curiosity can turn into enduring quest for knowledge and enhanced fulfillment in life.
Why is this important for your child’s development? Children who develop the ability to be curious, coupled with a parent’s ability to nurture and guide their passion in a healthy manner, are more likely to have successful school careers and overall fulfillment in life. It even supports healthier relationships with others.
So how do you cultivate your child’s interests, sharks or otherwise?
- Listen to what your child talks to you about
- Watch your child’s play and see what themes you see (Loves rescuing people? Saving animals? Building skyscrapers?)
- Read books or provide books that features the interest
- Watch related media together
- Visit venues dedicated to that topic (Museums, zoos, aquariums, farms, art studios, observatories, police stations, doctor offices….the list is endless)
- Discuss opportunities that interest could spark (If your child loves building legos, ask exploratory questions: If you could build anywhere in the world where would it be? What kind of building? Who would it be for? You don’t have to limit your child to what’s probable or likely, it’s better to let his or her imagination run wild!
And if your child’s interests change every week? That‘s perfectly ok too. Childhood is about exploring and discovering. It’s natural for your child to have multiple interests or to switch interests after a time. Cultivating your child’s ability to be curious and developing the love for learning is the most important part of the process.
So what’s your child’s “Shark Week? What is your child fascinated by right now? What could you do together to cultivate that interest and passion?
Jenmarie Eadie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. She received her Master’s in Social Work from Arizona State with a dual concentration in Children, Youth, and Families; and Behavioral Health.