Northern Beaches Mums Group
Northern Beaches Mums Group

The AEIOU System: How To Help Your Kids Develop Their Own Hobby

Having interests is an important part of any child’s development. It will enhance their skills and knowledge in a particular area, and will give them something fun to do that is an ongoing project. It will teach them the value and satisfaction of improving at something, as well as how to celebrate achievements and learn from failures.

We’ve written a guide to help you help your children develop their own hobbies in the best possible way. The AEIOU system teaches parents to ‘Ask, Expose, Integrate, Observe, & Understand’ when it comes to their children’s hobbies. Read on to find out exactly what this means, and how to do it effectively.


We may think we know our children inside-out, but without speaking with them about their hobbies directly, all we’re doing is guessing. It might be that your child hasn’t mentioned something they’d like to try before because they’re not sure you know it exists, or don’t know enough about it to be able to articulate why it appeals to them. So think about asking questions that help you and your child work out what they’re interested in more generally, and from there you can present some more specific ideas.

For example, do you like PE time? Do you prefer to play games with lots of other children, or just one or two? What’s your favourite subject at school? Get a feel for whether your child might gravitate more naturally towards team sports or something more independent such as tennis, whether they’re more solitary and would prefer to learn chess than say, joining a dance troupe. 

From there you can start to trial and error these hobbies, which can be as easy (and affordable) as browsing eBay (via Qantas Shopping to earn Qantas Points as you go!) for a home chemistry kit if they love science, or a watercolour set if you think art is more up their alley.


The best way for your child to learn what hobby they’d like to pursue is by letting them discover for themselves. This may mean a period of switching routines, intense phases that could last anywhere between one week and one year, and a lot of trips to the charity shops when old hobbies are discarded in favour of new ones. During this period of intense exposure, your child will be learning so much about their character, their interests and their skills. 

They may even pick up a new hobby they hadn’t considered before. For example, if your child takes up singing lessons they might get the opportunity to perform in a musical and discover a love of acting. This will also help them meet other children; a shared hobby can be a valuable preset to forming friendships, and may encourage them to continue developing their skills if they have someone to progress with.

Of course, it may not be possible with either time or financial constraints to sign your kids up to every single sport there is, or every weekend class, which is why asking what they might be interested in can rule out the definite no’s. Remember that it’s completely normal for these interests to wax and wane over time as your child develops, so it’s natural for hobbies to change regularly.


Once your child has landed on a hobby or two that they seem keen they want to stick with, make sure you do everything you reasonably can to integrate it into your family’s routines. Big game days, recitals, competitions and other important dates will generally be signposted to parents in advance so they are able to make arrangements to attend.

Don’t feel pressured to have the same hobbies as your child. They might pick a niche activity you’ve never heard of, and their expertise in the subject soon outweighs yours. A child will simply appreciate being able to tell someone about what they’re doing, who can listen actively and demonstrate that they are interested. If you have products, awards or certificates you can display, your child will know you’re proud of their achievements. 

Work out how you can implement a set time for your child to spend on their hobby per week. This is going to be easier for sports or group activities with dedicated lessons or training sessions, but you can just as easily create your own scheduled time for other hobbies such as cooking or gardening.


Once your child is part of a sports team, or attending regular classes somewhere, check-in with them regularly to see how they’re finding it. Consider that your child might want to sign up for Saturday football because all her friends are there, but once on the pitch realises the idea of kicking a ball around and getting muddy is the worst way she could spend the weekend. Equally, maybe your son was talked into joining a swimming club by teachers or siblings, but it’s diving that really catches his interest.

Make time during pick-ups or dinner to facilitate open conversations where your child can tell you how their session went. A bad day might not mean they dislike the hobby – it could signal the opposite. If they’re experiencing frustration at not being able to get something ‘right’, it may indicate an elevated interest in what they’re doing. On the other hand, your child may not want you to think they’re ‘failing’, so when you do get a chance to watch them doing something, see if they look like they’re actually having fun.


If your child expresses that they are not enjoying a hobby they have chosen, try to get to the bottom of why. It could be because the teacher is too strict, they don’t have friends in the group, or they are finding it too challenging. In this case, it might just be a case of switching to a different session. If they are regularly talking about finding the activity too boring, tiring or difficult, then it might be good to explore some different options.

Let your child know that there is merit in persevering through something that can be challenging at times, but also make them feel encouraged to be honest with you, and tell them that it is ok to stop doing something if they are no longer enjoying it. Be careful not to offload your own interests or desires for your child’s hobby when discussing it with them. Whilst it may have been your dream to get to Grade 8 ballet, your child might have had enough after Grade 3, and that’s okay.

Keep encouraging your child to be curious, and give them alternative suggestions for new hobbies to take up if they are seeking guidance. Show them your hobbies, and get them to talk to relatives and friends about what they’re interested in.

After-school activities and hobby clubs can generate friendships, unlock major personality traits, and even set up foundations for certain careers. From a wider perspective, hobbies can greatly benefit the cognitive abilities of children beyond what they’re directly learning. They will get better at working with others, practising their creativity, advancing their motor skills and coordination, and even their ability to lead or teach if they reach a certain level. If nothing else, they’re a bit of fun, and what sort of kid doesn’t want to have fun?

After reading through our AEIOU guide, you’re better equipped to help your child discover their passions and be the most supportive parent whilst they pursue it.